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Old 03-25-2020, 07:01 AM
Napier is offline
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Does online shopping for nonessentials during pandemic create hardship?


I'm reluctant to shop online for nonessentials because I picture the net effect would primarily be to burden people who are already working too hard.

But is that correct? If there's a huge employment shift, and people from businesses that have suffered (perhaps restaurants) now have to find new jobs, the bigger effect could be to provide opportunities where they are needed.

So which is it?

I'm happy to shop or not shop. We're talking non-essentials, but things I would be buying online if it weren't for the pandemic.
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Old 03-25-2020, 07:09 AM
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You are keeping the economy afloat. That guy on eBay selling that thingy you always wanted but don't need probably needs the money to buy essential items. You sir are a Patriot!
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Old 03-25-2020, 07:15 AM
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I figure as long as the retailers are happy to ship it out you're fine. Amazon let me know for my latest shipment that as they were non-essentials the shipping time would be longer. That's fine with me. Plus I ship it to a locker so less exposure for the delivery driver.
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Old 03-25-2020, 11:38 AM
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I've been curious about this too. I've been ordering friends stupid little things on Amazon just to help with social isolation.
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Old 03-25-2020, 12:11 PM
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Are people getting restaurant meals delivered or prepared for pickup getting essentials?

I think the ability to order anything online preserves sanity. It also allows people to keep working. More people are being hired to handle online purchasing or delivery.

Life goes on. And in the event of catastrophe, whether personal or national or worldwide, the need for any kind of normalcy is good for people.


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  #6  
Old 03-25-2020, 12:51 PM
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There are two types of Amazon shipping: Prime (shipping handled by Amazon) and Marketplace (shipping handled by the individual sellers). Amazon is delaying Prime shipping for non-essentials. But there is no problem buying non-essentials from Marketplace sellers because they are probably only selling non-essentials. eBay would be comparable to Amazon Marketplace--so again no problem ordering from them.
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Old 03-25-2020, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PastTense View Post
There are two types of Amazon shipping: Prime (shipping handled by Amazon) and Marketplace (shipping handled by the individual sellers). Amazon is delaying Prime shipping for non-essentials. But there is no problem buying non-essentials from Marketplace sellers because they are probably only selling non-essentials. eBay would be comparable to Amazon Marketplace--so again no problem ordering from them.
There's two different things that you've blurred here. There's who is handling the logistics and there's how the item is shipped.

Who is handling the logistics can be Amazon or 3rd Party. 3rd-Party listings can still use Amazon's logistics (this is called FBA, or Fulfillment by Amazon), and on rare occasion Amazon will use 3rd Party Logistics (this is called drop-ship.) To be clear, I'm considering any carrier contracted to deliver a package to be logistics on behalf of the shipper.

For Amazon-handled logistics, they now have a whole panoply of options: same-day, next-day, two-day, regular ground, super-saver, etc. They are happy to make all of these options available to anyone who will pay for it. Prime is a program that, among other things, buys you faster shipping for a flat annual or monthly fee for many items.

With the coronavirus mixing everything up, a few things have changed. Amazon has officially told 3rd party merchants that they are only accepting certain types of goods into their warehouses. This is for FCA, and doesn't affect 3rd party listings where the merchant handles their own logistics. It's not clear how it affects Amazon-owned inventory. Secondly, 'non-essential' items are getting promises that are many days, weeks, or even a month out, even if they're in-stock. Amazon clearly seems to be prioritizing essential items even for things already in their warehouses. Lastly, and unofficially, it is rumored that Amazon is favoring their Prime members over non-members.

I would say: order whatever you want. If it's a burden, the logistics handlers can prioritize as appropriate.
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Old 03-25-2020, 01:25 PM
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There are a couple things I'd love from Amazon, but I've been putting it off because I've heard shipping is dreadful. I don't pay for Prime so I'd already expect things to take a week and a half or so.
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Old 03-25-2020, 03:06 PM
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We are about fully stocked with non-essentials; what we buy now are mandatory consumables. Yes, the vacuum cleaner that arrived via UPS a couple days ago is necessary to keep the dust down so we don't choke. No, I'm not buying more guitars online, damaging the luthier's trade but freeing-up truck space for canned-food deliveries.
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Old 03-25-2020, 09:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PastTense View Post
There are two types of Amazon shipping: Prime (shipping handled by Amazon) and Marketplace (shipping handled by the individual sellers). Amazon is delaying Prime shipping for non-essentials. But there is no problem buying non-essentials from Marketplace sellers because they are probably only selling non-essentials. eBay would be comparable to Amazon Marketplace--so again no problem ordering from them.
I'm a 3rd party Marketplace seller, and while my overall sales volume hasn't changed much, the nature of it has. I'm selling a lot more craft magazines and guides, and things suitable for homeschoolers, than I usually do.
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:02 AM
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I've had the same question, and I've also been holding off on non-essentials.

My concern is less about Amazon, or Kohl's or whoever I'm buying from. I figure if they are willing to sell, they can handle it. My concern is with the actual shipping and delivery. If the UPS driver is running around delivering my bird feeder, and my neighbor's new socks, and some other guy's new living room set, and whatever other completely non-necessary stuff we buy, does that mean we're making our other neighbors wait longer for their toilet paper and medications, and the laptop their kid needs to do school from home?

Not to mention, I'm asking that UPS employee to continually go outside, potentially risking their life each day, while I'm safe at home and ordering new shoes because I'm bored.

So I haven't been ordering online.

I'd actually love for someone to come on and tell me why this thinking is wrong. I saw a bunch of cute stuff on sale today lol.
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:07 AM
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I've been curious about this too. I've been ordering friends stupid little things on Amazon just to help with social isolation.
Will you be my friend?
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Old 03-26-2020, 08:11 AM
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I ordered a new battery for my electric scooter. I don't need it, but I am anticipating that I will in a couple of months. I have no idea what kind of economic landscape we will have in the next two months. Maybe the store I ordered from will still be around, but maybe it won't.
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:11 AM
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Hey, that cuticle cream I ordered from Amazon was absolutely essential! With all the handwashing I do, my cuticles are cracking and bleeding!


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Old 03-26-2020, 09:19 AM
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Will you be my friend?
I thought we were!
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Old 03-26-2020, 09:45 AM
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I thought we were!
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Old 04-02-2020, 06:29 AM
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There's a pretty convincing argument here that argues online shopping for nonessentials is wrong on the basis that it increases risk for many people in the supply chain:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/non-e...b62a1870d67f24

They're quoting representatives of the people at risk, and an ethicist.
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Old 04-02-2020, 08:02 PM
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A new food processor arrived at our post office, locked in a pickup cabinet so no human contact. We'll leave it in the laundry nook for a couple of days to decontaminate. Did we NEED it? Well, it beats the old one, and Macy's had it super-discounted. Did we help Macy's survive for several milliseconds longer than expected? Did we stimulate the supply-chain economy? Should I mail-order more guitar strings? Stocking up, just in case, y'know.

Military supply chains must be disrupted with the call for more PPE and all. Should I order a howitzer to keep the arms industry solvent?
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Old 04-02-2020, 09:46 PM
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Places like Amazon seem to be prioritizing necessary items, so I wouldn't worry about it.
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Old 04-03-2020, 08:28 AM
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Places like Amazon seem to be prioritizing necessary items, so I wouldn't worry about it.
It was more the delivery companies like UPS, FedEx, and the USPS that were expressing fear. They have no way of sorting out what's a priority, as they don't know the contents or circumstances.
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Old 04-03-2020, 08:42 AM
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I've been wondering the same thing. On the one hand, buying stuff helps the person I am paying. On the other, I wonder if companies are pressuring employees to work too close and in unsafe ways. On the third hand, I wonder how many of those jobs just go away otherwise, and how much the employees need them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Napier View Post
There's a pretty convincing argument here that argues online shopping for nonessentials is wrong on the basis that it increases risk for many people in the supply chain:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/non-e...b62a1870d67f24

They're quoting representatives of the people at risk, and an ethicist.
Thanks, will read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Napier View Post
It was more the delivery companies like UPS, FedEx, and the USPS that were expressing fear. They have no way of sorting out what's a priority, as they don't know the contents or circumstances.
I'm not very worried about that aspect. Driving around delivering boxes to doorsteps is not very high risk. You don't catch it from being "outdoors", but from contact with other people. I think UPS can protect their deliverymen just fine by making sure they have hand sanitizer. The only real point of risk is the loading dock.

I'm more worried about the people in the warehouses, (and the UPS loading dock) running around pulling stuff off the shelves with other employees around.
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Old 04-03-2020, 07:42 PM
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I had a unique (for me) shopping experience in this post-COVID retail environment.

Last night, I went into my bedroom, turned on the TV, and the picture was...dim. After fiddling with the picture settings with only a little improvement, I realized that the set is at least 10 years old and just might be at end of life.

In the past, I would have lived with the picture until it got really bad, while leisurely visiting local shops to see which set had the best picture and features (and price). I would have made up a spreadsheet and done on-line research, settled on the exact set, then bought, either negotiating in-store or finding the lowest price online.

But now that set in the bedroom is important. So I went on Amazon and did a little poking around and decided I could get a bigger screen, 4K, and online apps for $250-350, which is probably half what I paid for my current set. I spent about an hour that night narrowing the selections, then another hour in the morning, picked the set, loaded it in my cart, got to the end and saw that Amazon promised delivery is about 2 1/2 weeks.

But on the final checkout page was a little note: Sourced by Best Buy. I went on the Best Buy website, found the model, stuck it in their cart and took it to checkout. They offered to ship and deliver in about a week, but more important, I could pick up the set at my local store (parking lot delivery to my car). The best Buy price was higher by a whole eight dollars.

So this morning I made my biweekly grocery run (mostly fresh vegetables and fruit) and on the way back stopped at the Best Buy. "Delivery" took about five minutes. I was directed to a spot in front of the store, someone came out and looked at the confirmation code on my phone (readable from outside the passenger window), I unlocked my back door, they slid the box into my back seat, and I was on my way. At no time was anyone closer to me than about 6 feet.

I can't imagine doing anything like this 6 months ago, though I'm sure some facsimile of the process was available. And I supported a local merchant (though I doubt this is going to slow Best Buy's slow slide into oblivion) and didn't clog the distribution channels.
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Old 04-03-2020, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Kovitlac View Post
There are a couple things I'd love from Amazon, but I've been putting it off because I've heard shipping is dreadful. I don't pay for Prime so I'd already expect things to take a week and a half or so.
I always try to bundle my purchases so they'll be over $25, thus qualify for free shipping.

One can search specifically for items which will qualify for free shipping at the $25 threshold.
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Old 04-03-2020, 10:39 PM
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I think there is a good case to be made for NOT buying non-essentials. People for the most part need to be sheltering in place. When you buy a non-essential online, a whole host of people are always involved in getting it to you. These are people who could be working to help provide essential services, or otherwise staying at home to prevent the viral spread.

I work in a grocery store and every day we are having lots of people shopping to get their families enough food to ride out the pandemic for another week. We also have people who come in and hand our Customer Service clerks a stack of lottery tickets to run, or want someone to blow up a bunch of balloons for their kid's birthday. If I or my co-workers get sick working hard to get people food -- well that is the chance we have agreed to take in order to do our part. If someone gets sick because of the lottery I will be pissed.
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Old 04-05-2020, 07:08 AM
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I'm working 60 hours in major ecommerce warehouse and I want to keep being able to do that as long as possible. Plus they are on a major hiring spree. A lot of "co-workers" complain constantly about customers ordering non-essentials and have always complained about products they just don't like to handle. I tell these people to STFU. What most people would end up defining as essential probably wouldn't provide the level of work we need to keep working enough for me to eat. So I welcome anyone buying anything, including double dongs and buttplugs and whatever. I do not care. If they pull the overtime I'm going to be in a bad situation.
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Old 04-05-2020, 07:45 AM
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The way to get the economy back up and running again isn't to put $10 into someone's pocket right now. It's to push as extreme a version of social distancing as possible to drive new cases down low enough that contact tracing and selective quarantine can be enforced. Every day saved on doing this is massive amounts of dollars avoided wasted in the community.

Say you have a distribution center that could get away with 200 staff working in it if people only ordered essential items and 400 staff working to cope with the demand for non-essential orders as well. And say the base rate of presymptomatic infectious people in your community is 0.2% right now. With 200 people, the chances of someone infectious coming into work is 33%, with 400 people, it's 55%. Not only that, with 200 people, it's much easier to comply with social distancing protocols but with 400, people are inevitably going to be in closer proximity with each other. So now you've increased the risk of someone coming into work infectious, giving it to a bunch of other people, those people going home and giving it to their families and starting off a whole new cluster chain that takes an extra week of social distancing to tamp down.

So no, don't buy that extra vacuum cleaner if it can wait a few weeks. You're adding marginally to the danger of your entire community and extending the timeline of lockdowns by forcing people to go into highly dangerous jobs that they don't have to be doing.
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