With an uptick in online ordering, I’ve had to work a bit harder to avoid using Amazon. Jeff Bezos doesn’t need any of my money, and just about everyone else does, so I make the effort.
Search engines conspire against this quest. Search for almost anything and the top results, plural, are Amazon. It’s annoying.
When I use it at all, I use Amazon as a free product research tool. I’ll look at product specs, manuals, reviews, Q&As… and then go somewhere else to buy it.
“But Amazon is so easy!” people say. Yes, but many of these same people feel bad that they shopped at Amazon once they’ve ordered.
What I lose in convenience I gain in satisfaction. I’ve found an alternative! I’ve supported a smaller business! I might find a great source!
I’ll give one recent example – desiccant. It is the stuff in little bags that keep things dry. I needed some for the wood stove to keep it dry and rust-free during the summer when it isn’t in use.
I tried the local hardware store, but they didn’t have any. I started to look online. Search for desiccant and wikipedia tells you what it is, then Amazon starts selling it to you. Ugh. I skipped them and looked further. I found commercial suppliers that could ship me a full barrel. Hmm.
I found scientific supply houses that could get me varying amounts, but it didn’t look like what I wanted. I was after some simple color-indicating silica beads. When they had soaked up all the moisture they could handle, they’d change color.
U-line had some in paper bags, like you’d find in a package shipped to you. It wasn’t color indicating, and I have a vague recollection that buying from U-line supports something I’m against, so I moved on.
After quite a bit of digging down and variations on keywords, I found my place – The Rust Store – out in Wisconsin. Rust prevention and removal experts. Perfect! They had what I wanted, it was the right price, and I could avoid Amazon and support people who were truly interested in rust!
This is just one example. Not only did I get what I wanted, I found out about a guy who was fed up with rust. This could come in handy in the future. Rust tends to be an issue from time to time.
I’ll end with a search engine tip. When searching for a product and trying to avoid amazon, try this:
The “productname” is what you want to buy. The “minus Amazon” takes the word “amazon” out of the search results. Easy. Works with all the major search engines.
Amazon may still buy an ad at the top of the results, but it is much easier to skip.
Using a search engine other than Google also sometimes help expand the results. Qwant.com, for example, has some really good results that Google doesn’t.
Use the “minus” trick to avoid other companies you might be boycotting as well, or see search results that aren’t cluttered by one dominant player.