Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Saturday, February 07, 2004
Why was a bad idea?

Kevin Drum offhanded, in a contrarian post against the too-quick conclusion that Dean's Internet bubble was a conceptual (as opposed to practical) failure:

selling cat food via the internet was just dumb

...well, failed, sure, but it's become a commonplace now that it was a ridiculous idea, and I'd like someone to explain why. Pet food is:

-- a commodity
-- for which each customer has a fixed, non-impulse need
-- and is rather heavy, so stocking up during sales can be inconvenient.

Faced with all this, the idea of allowing people to buy their pet food in bulk and have it delivered sounds promising. Certainly it sounds promising (a priori) compared to buying books online, where you'd think that losing the experience of browsing in a bookstore would be fatal. Obviously, Amazon's amazing web site has overcome that.

But I repeat: aside from knowing now that it failed, why should it have been obvious 5 years ago that was doomed?

...posted also in Calpundit's comments. Welcome Calpundit link followers; the Comments link is right down there.

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