Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blu Ray Media Stores: Amazon Review

Blu Ray blank media guide : Best Blu Ray media stores 
Best Blu Ray Media Stores Part 3: Amazon Review

One can find almost anything on Amazon, which is often the first resource that many online shoppers check when looking for unfamiliar items. And, sure enough, there are plenty of blank Blu Ray media on Amazon... In fact, thanks to Amazon's broad marketplace, where merchants other than Amazon itself can directly transact with consumers, we found Amazon to be an ideal place to locate unusual or rare Blu Ray media. Among other items, we were able to find numerous Japanese imports for Blu Ray media, a particularly interesting find as optical media distributed in Japan carries an excellent reputation around the world. In general, we found that, while Amazon did not always carry the best prics on the market, it had an amazingly deep inventory along with low prices for specific SKUs - but not for everything...

Site and usability
Blu Ray media can be found on the Amazon site under Computers -> Computer Accessories -> Computer Accessories (yes, twice) -> Blank Media, or under  Electronics -> Accessories & Supplies -> Blank Media, for the same result. Site speed is poor, with 3.5 seconds per page average to display a right-clicked SKU. Of our wish list of 13 types of sorting and binning, Amazon provides 7 of them: you do not have a Blu Ray category, cannot select speed, single/ dual layer, printability,  or quantity, cannot sort by most reviews, and need to calculate price per disk yourself. On the other hand, you can select the type (BD-R/ BD-RE), manufacturer, sort by best selling, price or manufacturer, and view user ratings on the listing pages.

Inventory and price
Amazon shows off a outstanding inventory of 292 Blue Ray media, and stocks a category record 44% of our 89 Blu Ray test media - ranking 1st of all stores surveyed, ex-aequo with MediaMegaMall. Amazon prices are on average 19.9% higher than the best price across our surveyed stores, ranking in the middle of the pack. Amazon SKU prices match the best price for 6 SKUs, for media stocked by more than one store, rating 3th after MediaMegaMall and NewEgg, much better under this criterion that for the average overprice. When we looked specifically at the 6 best media we selected for archival quality, we found that Amazon carries 3 of them, at an overprice of 18.5% over best price. We would have liked the percentage to be higher, and the prices a touch lower. Clearly, Amazon has a fairly wide range of prices, with some excellent prices and some rather poor ones. This broad set of prices (which we can also encounter at seems somewhat characteristic of sites with merchant marketplaces.

User reviews
Amazon is famous for its user reviews, and for their integration in the product pages. We often turn to Amazon first to check user reviews on a very wide variety of products. We were all the more disappointed to find only 392 reviews across all Blu Ray media SKUs on Amazon - a category-high number, yet somehow lower than our expectations...

Customer Service
Surprisingly for a site with the volume, loyalty and reputation of Amazon, it does not do very well in CS. Amazon gathers little more than 2,000 reviews on ResellerRatings with a low 83% rating, and a bit over 5,000 reviews on Google Shopping with a better 90% rating. It receives a mediocre 85% predictive CS rating. This relatively poor performance is no doubt due to the presence of marketplace merchants.

Table: Amazon Blu Ray media review (see legend below)

Amazon is a general purpose shopping site with a large marketplace component, an amazingly broad inventory of Blu Ray media products, mediocre site speed and sorting, some of the best and worst prices at the same time, and mediocre customer service. It is definitely a good site to check for Blu Ray media, although not the most convenient or always the cheapest, and a great resource for unusual or rare media.

Next we review B&H Photo Video for Blu Ray media... So come back soon!

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Table Legend:
Total inventory: total number of Blu ray media SKUs on the site
Inventory %: percentage of list of 89 Blu Ray media that can be found at the store
Inventory % for selected archival media: % of SKUs that we selected in our Blu Ray Media review for archival grade
Site sorting: how many types of sorts and bins are possible on the site (out of the 13 we listed in our wish list)
Average query speed: the average speed to display a right-clicked SKU  - measures browsing speed
Average overprice: How much % over best price, for all media present in more than one store

Average overprice for selected archival media: specifically how much % over best price for the media we selected for archival grade
# lowest priced SKUs: how many SKUs in the store equal best price (if more than one store carries them)
# user reviews: how many user reviews we found on the site for Blu Ray media
Predictive CS rating: our worst case analysis of the likely Customer Support rating for this store
, explained here

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