Economic Research

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For this assignment I decided to analyze the shopping experience for books on coffee brewing. I went to three different websites: Powells, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Once there, I typed "coffee brewing" into the search box and browsed through the results that came up. The first thing I noticed was the amount of results on each website. Powells had 25, Barnes and Noble had 67, and Amazon had 4,652. I figured that this was because each website has a different method of obtaining their product. Powells is a used book store, and they mostly only get books if people sell-back to them. Barnes and Noble is a regular bookstore that has a specific inventory of books. Amazon has a unique way of getting its products: they offer both new and used products (for many items), and from many different stores, websites, or their own Amazon warehouse. For example, when I clicked the first link for The Art and Craft of Coffee: An Enthusiast's Guide to Selecting, Roasting, and Brewing Exquisite Coffee, it gave me three options: 43 new, 22 used, or 1 collectible. Clicking on "43 new" brought up a list of different sellers who currently offered this title, along with their price, the price of shipping, the condition of the book, their feedback score, and where the book ships from. This is why I feel that the amount of results from my search has varied so greatly between these websites.

The shopping experience was different on each website. There were several of the same books that appeared on each website. They must have been the more popular books. For example, all three websites had The Joy of Coffee: The Essential Guide to Buying, Brewing, and Enjoying. As I said earlier, the amount of results on Powells was very limited. Some of the results on the bottom of the page weren't even available; they had a "notify me" button that I could have used to alert me when the product became available. There was also one item on "backorder" and one item I could "preorder." Even though there were only 25 items available, it still had a decent variety of books to choose from. There was little option for narrowing down my search. On the Barnes and Noble website, there was an added star rating for each book. I find this very helpful when I am searching for a product because I always like to read reviews before I buy something. Amazon also has this feature. I like the ability to sort by highest rated. Barnes and Noble doesn't offer this feature, but as I scrolled through the page I noticed that most items actually didn't have a rating. It seemed to be that only a few were rated. On Amazon, almost every item is rated and there is an option to narrow your search by "Average customer review."

Each website has a "related" books section once you've clicked on an item. On Powells, I noticed that the related books often didn't have to do with coffee. I wonder if this is because they don't have a huge variety of coffee books, and they just filled the "related" section with food and beverage books. Both Barnes and Noble and Amazon had similar "related" sections, and the books that appeared there were all about coffee. All three "related" sections showed pricing and ratings (I noticed every once in a while there was a rating on Powells). On Amazon, there was more to this section than on other websites, because Amazon sells so many different products. The "related" sections also contained products such as coffee and coffee makers. I found this to be most helpful in my personal shopping experience, because there are times when I do want more than one specific item, and Amazon's "related" section helps peak your interest on similar items.

All three websites had good information on each book. There was a book synopsis as well as a section about the author. It also had basic information such as number of pages, publish date, and ISBN. All of the websites enable you to personalize your experience by using social networking features, such as...
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