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The Atlantic has an excellent piece about how, while the notion of an "informed consumer" may always have been a myth, e-commerce has made it even more problematic, largely because online shoppers are even more easily manipulated than their in-store counterparts.

An excerpt:

"Brick-and-mortar retailers are no strangers to consumer manipulation. But shopping on the internet tricks would-be buyers into believing that if they can’t distinguish reality from sales tactics, it’s their own fault. Shoppers can now conduct their own mini research projects when deciding what to buy: They can read reviews, watch videos, consult the opinions of influencers and product-recommendation sites such as Wirecutter and The Strategist, compare products across multiple brands. But access to such information offers merely the illusion of control."

The story goes on:

"Because you’re shopping online, you can’t go look at most of the products in a store, and you can’t tell how - or whether - one thing is different from the very similar thing two thumbnails down. You can’t tell if a particular product will spy on you or sell your data … You buy something cheap and hope it holds up—or at least tides you over—for a while. If it doesn’t, you probably can’t get someone on the phone to solve your problem, so you toss it or squirrel it away in the back of a storage closet."

KC's View:

Part of the problem - and I think this is especially evident on Amazon - is that pages are so cluttered that it is almost impossible to find what you want.  This is bad for the shopper, and even if the online retailer thinks it is good for its vendors, I think in the long run it isn't good for anyone.

I had this experience over the weekend while I was shopping for a Mother's Day present for Mrs. Content Guy.  (I won't be specific on the off chance she reads MNB today.  And I've already erased my browsing history.). I knew exactly what I was looking for, but even though I was specific in the search field, I got so much stuff to look through before I found the item that it was irritating.  Much of this was "sponsored content" in other words, ads.  I just cannot imagine that in the long run, this is good when trying to create a positive customer experience.