What is that crunching sound? Is it a hungry ferret, a starving bear? No, it is Amazon eating the world.
Ever since this “fulfillment” company came on the scene, the retail world has been gobbled up. First, it was the bookstores. Kindle killed Barnes and Noble.
The scene: Two small kids sitting at a table.
“I told grandpa that this table was too high for me to reach.
He said I should sit on a couple of books.
I’ve downloaded four and it has not made any difference.”
The Internet had already made selling online the next big thing. People started selling everything from antiques to supplements. Remember eBay? They are still there fighting for market share.
I bought my current car on eBay. The model I wanted was not available locally. It came from New Jersey! (Sounds like a monster movie!)
All you needed was a website, a camera, and some stamps, and you could sell anything that you could send legally through the mail. This was a little cumbersome for us buyers. We had to search the web, sift through the different sites, and take our chances.
Amazon became the great aggregator. One-stop searching and buying. How convenient to go to one place where they sell virtually (pun intended) everything. You could compare features and prices. There are reviews to inform you about quality, customer service, fit, and finish and some humorous rants.
Arrived broke / Could not read the Chinese instructions / Did not fit, I have always been a medium!
Then Amazon invented PRIME! A measly $99 got you free two-day shipping. Never mind that the price is often higher. You want that free shipping no matter the price. You can get it in two days, including Sundays. All from the comfort of your couch. Soon coming to a driveway near you by drone! How cool is that?
“Martha! Why is the dog barking?”
“He is chasing that dang Amazon drone that is delivering your underwear.”
“Oh, my word. He caught it again. Call the vet.”
Next came PRIME movies, and original series, and everything you ever dreamed you could want! Can Utopia be far behind? Ask Alexa!
Well, maybe not if you are a retail business. Amazon is not the only behemoth scarfing up real estate. Walmart, the mall-sized everything store, is now competing head-to-head for Internet sales. Lowes and Home Depot decimated the neighborhood hardware store. Whole Foods, now owned by Amazon, destroyed the small organic grocer.
Not to fear. The pendulum swings both ways. People are looking for walkable neighborhoods, and retail is tailoring their offerings to attract the walkers. “Shop local” is becoming cool again. Everybody knows “Ace is the place!”
“I need a screwdriver with the crossed pointy end.”
“You mean a Philips?”
”I don’t care what its name is!”
We will never return to the downtown shopping districts or malls of yore, but the death of local shopping, thankfully, is greatly exaggerated.
The danger in Amazon and others is in the ease with which you can order. You can find yourself with a significant credit card bill, not to mention the opportunity for identity theft or the lure of becoming a hoarder.
Please be careful. It is a jungle out there!
If I ruled the world . . .