This is a behavioral change that is playing out worldwide. I'd certainly expect people to head back into retail stores once the virus is spent, but they will also likely continue purchasing a higher portion of overall shopping online, simply because they've been forced to learn that for many, the experience is satisfactory. This is something they may not have previously realized.
What I wonder is, where is the labor shift happening? Warehouses need management, delivery needs drivers, live customer service is still valuable for handling corner case complaints & returns. Can cashiers and floor salespersons and store managers take those jobs? Even a town of, say, 25,000 needs drivers to deliver. How much of the brick-n-mortar workforce can be absorbed in this phase of Internet Automates Everything?
I find their delivery times dropping.. Last order, I ordered and paided more for same day rush.. that came by the end of the next day instead. They gave a $10 coupon but I literally picked the product based on it arriving that day and would have made a different purchasing choose if I knew it was coming tomorrow.
If you ignore shipping, maybe sometimes.
But I still find that 99% of the time, for items on Amazon.com that are sold by Amazon.com, it's cheaper on Amazon because of free shipping, while most others site charge $7-10 shipping or have a minimum of $75-100 for free shipping.
And even if you don't have Prime, the minimum for free shipping is just $25, and you can pretty much always add in stuff that you need to buy soon anyways (shampoo, paper towels, whatever).
And delivery times usually has zero to do with Amazon, obviously, they're best in class. With the pandemic and all, UPS and USPS are obviously straining in general. It's not like Wal-Mart, Kohl's, or any other online stores are any better. Despite their advertising, everyone knows you shouldn't be expecting UPS/USPS packages to be reliably arriving on time since March.
I think other stores see what's happening and are trying to crowd in. Best Buy, too, seems to have no trouble shipping me anything I want for free. It'll take a week, but most of the time I don't really care vs Amazon's 2-4 days. And with Best Buy/Home Depot/etc I at least know I'm not getting a knock off.
That is what has done it for me. Amazon has zero control over their inventory. I've gotten burned too many times at this point. Amazon is now a last resort or obscure items only retailer for me. That or I use it to find an item then buy it from the manufacture direct, funny how that has reversed from the old days.
I've even gotten unrequested refunds from amazon with a note about how the product I got was counterfeit. That's great and all but I needed the actual product not a refund and waste of time. Once you reach a livable income your time is worth much,more than saving a couple of dollars.
I've bought 1,000+ items from Amazon over the past 10 years and exactly one item was counterfeit -- a camera battery from a third-party seller.
Honestly, worrying about counterfeits on Amazon, for items sold either by Amazon.com or reputable storefronts like Pharmapacks, just seems silly, it's so incredibly rare and easy to get fixed immediately with a single quick phone call to Amazon. And for third-party storefronts you've never heard of, it's no different than doing the same on Walmart.com or eBay.
For electronics products, some reviews go into excruciating details on what counterfeit v real products look like.
Then some products literally explain how to avoid counterfeit products, especially the smaller producers of goods with niche products.
Finally there are articles in the press about it.
eBay has less of this problem because it's set up to select sellers based on reviews. Amazon's stores are more obscure, and often don't have many reviews, or sometimes you get an item fulfilled from a third party without knowing about it. I'm not sure if that still happens though.
Yeah easy to refund but I spent 2 hrs insect treating my house now I have to do it again, not a pleasant task. Oh yeah now I have a roach infestation because the traps were fake. The effects are much farther reaching than you make it out to be.
Amazon removed it years ago because they do not want to be in the law margin retail business. They want to only be in the higher margin platform business. And that makes me not want to support Amazon.
That said, I almost only buy the "shipped from and sold by Amazon.com" stuff, so maybe that's why. And if it's something that has obviously similar photos from a bunch of different "brands", I hop over to AliExpress to buy it at the source for 1/10 the price.
I can't tell if you think this is excessively bad or excessively good? Seems reasonable to me - they're just a couple of bulbs?
> I don't really care vs Amazon's 2-4 days
Isn't the big thing about Amazon is that it's next-day shipping? I don't live anywhere near a major city and Amazon still manage to deliver to me in about ten hours now.
Amazon free shipping has been terrible here. Weeks, at best unless you pay for the express options. And yes Walmart is better. One of my recent online purchases (cell phone screen protector) was estimated at 3 weeks delivery on Amazon. I bought the same item from Walmart.com instead and had it in 2 or 3 days.
But still, not much room for profit. And from my experience, a lot of big box sellers will just put it in a huge box and pay a much higher rate than necessary for shipping.
For Home Depot, assuming it's not a mistake, that's probably an investment in persuading customers to look to them first and not shop around.
Target and Walmart both have free shipping for orders over 25/35 depending on which items.
Our local Target also offers drive up service where they'll load items into your trunk for you, and you can combine orders so you pick up $30 worth of items same day and get a $5 item (not in store) shipped free since the total is $35.
2 day shipping and 5% off with Red Card makes it a pretty compelling competitor to Amazon. Especially with all the fake/potentially unsafe items on Amazon, I prefer to get food related items from Target if possible.
To the parent point, even with 2-day delivery, most of the things I order aren't stuff I need right now. And the reality is that, normally, they'd have gone on a list where they'd have rattled around before I got around to going to the store with a shopping list. But, now, generally minimizing or at least reducing store trips, has reinforced the notion that a lot of in-person errands are pretty unnecessary given online options.
I was on my way to a meeting in Manhattan last year and it was pouring rain. I ordered an umbrella from the highway just north of the city, and had it in hand within 15m.
We need new leadership in NYC to fix this up!!
I had to show up onsite in Midtown with a few hours notice, and was able to roll off the highway somewhere in Rockland county and pick something up rather than look around.
I’m able to just drop off the item without packaging or label or really anything except my name and other info like the order number. Couldn’t be much easier (if you have a Kohl’s close).
I’m sure for areas that don’t have Kohl’s, they’re working on figuring out how to make returns as easy as possible (relative to the b&m experience).
(Allegedly you can also return to an Amazon Locker. Never tried that)
It's usually between 3-8 days. I used it for years and have friends who still do.
The first couple months of COVID a lot of stuff was taking 2-3 weeks but that was often true even if you had Prime. Then they hired tons more people and it stopped. Maybe that's what you're talking about?
In these cases, I’m willing to backorder from other retailers (or the manufacturer) and wait for their slower shipping.
For example, a search for "snow pants" turns up products by Arctix and Outdoor Ventures. Outdoor Ventures is presumably a knockoff of Outdoor Research, a reputable cold-weather clothing brand. Outdoor Ventures seller page says their actual company name is "FUJIANSHENG SHANGFEI ZHIYI YOUXIANGONGSI". And Arctix is presumably a knockoff of Arcteryx, and seems to be owned by a very small financial services company in NY.
I rarely feel like I'm being presented with accurate or meaningful information when I look for things on amazon.
If it was that easy to beat them with just pricing then other retailers would've done it already. The only other company that gets close is Target which has vastly improved its online and digital experience.
I buy locally what I can, but retail offerings are so anemic (even for, say, granola bars) that online options massively eclipse what stores carry.
I don't want to order from Amazon, but I don't want to get by with the meager brick-and-mortar offerings.
Another example: Recently I went to Best Buy to grab an HDMI-DisplayPort cable. They had it priced at $38. Amazon had it for $12. I'd have paid up to $20 for the retail stock surcharge, but that overage was obscene.
edit I've heard they make more selling you a USB cable than selling you a printer.
But earlier this month, I ordered something from them and it took 4 days to hand it off to some shipping company, 3 days for that company to deliver it to USPS, and another 2 days to get to my door.
For me, I found this not to be true. I've been ordering gifts for people fleeing the company I work due to a merger and the changes, so there has been a lot. Literally everything I found on niche sites I found on Amazon for cheaper and at a faster delivery rate aswell.
Lately also more and more books are dented or damaged when they arrive so they get send back too. If I want a book that looks like second hand copies I would buy one of those.
2020 - 235
2019 - 107
2018 - 91
2017 - 112
2016 - 34
2015 - 39
2014 - 53
Note the two step jumps. I broke my arm at the start of 2017 for ref.
Edit: also to note I've had two (yes just two) issues with Amazon in that time and they just sent new items the next day without argument. Retail has been a shit show on that front for years. I remember standing in Argos arguing with the manager because the DVD player I bought had broken with one of my DVDs inside it and he wouldn't replace it until I'd got it out and I couldn't get it out because the thing had no release hole.
This month: DisplayPort cable, blu tack, coffee, Mac mini, apple magic touchpad, blanket, 2 kindle books, laser toner, face masks, fleece, bulldog clips, replacement calculator for one that was stolen at school, 2 replacement lightning cables for family, cards against humanity, roller skates, two revision guides, glue sticks, thermometer, toilet paper, wallpaper repair kit, envelopes
A lot of this stuff would have traditionally come from retail outlets.
We can also do our grocery shopping via amazon here although that’s a shit show so I won’t be bothering with that until they’ve ironed out the kinks.
Aside from trying on clothes, I don’t know why anyone would shop in a store.
2020 - 181
2019 - 124
2018 - 116
2017 - 93
2016 - 62
If I lived in US/UK/DE/IT or wherever they do have warehouses the numbers would probably look different.
I’m down to just buying books on Amazon, because no one else really sells books anymore, at least not the books I want. For everything else there are better and cheaper local webshops.
Amazon is a mess, you can’t easily find what you want, filtering sucks and 25% of the stuff you want doesn’t ship to your country anyway. Oh, and they treat their warehouse staff terribly, so I minimize what I buy from Amazon.
There are alternatives. I'd rather use them.
2012 - 1
2013 - 7
2014 - 109 (mostly free ebook)
2015 - 18
2016 - 76 (more disposable income + moved to a house)
2017 - 116
2018 - 214
2019 - 243
2020 - 212
What are you ordering per day?
I'm happy knowing that I can survive not leaving the house if I need to by doing a single bulk online food shop once every two or three weeks. Then I might need the odd delivery for broken light bulbs and things I couldn't foresee. I also don't need a car at all as there's enough shops in walking distance and decent public transport.
I second the concerns about the carbon footprint of frequent orders. At the very least, people should try to do bulk orders and avoid buying stuff they don't need. Driving around 3 times a day to buy stuff shouldn't be the norm either.
Food shops in the UK can deliver without any bags at all for example. A single bottle of something from Amazon for instance will likely come in a cardboard box with some kind of plastic bubble wrap.
And is it really true that the driver is going to have items to delivery to almost every block of houses every day? Not everyone is shopping from the same retailer either.
My apartment literally has Amazon drivers coming twice a day with a cart full of packages
None of us have set foot in a store since March.
People shouldn't be discussing if it's better to do all these deliveries by car vs Amazon, but how we reduce excessive consumption and waste.
The bigger question is whether the total number of jobs in the economy will stay high enough to not have permanent mass unemployment. My guess is, "yes it will, for now at least".
Mass unemployment would get accompanied by mass loss of disposable income, so that would actually be bad for Amazon. Automating the supply kind of automates away some of the demand.
The notion of bullshit jobs is basically about people doing busy work without actually doing or producing anything of real value. The industrial revolution produced a lot of that already. There's going to be more of it. Easy to predict, because there already is a lot of it.
IMHO the lockdown kind of revealed just how pointless some of our jobs really are. Masses of people suddenly worked from home and it did not really disrupt a lot of the supply chains or economy. Instead of being useless in some cubicle, people now got to be useless at home. Technically that should have been a huge productivity hit; except a lot of these people were never really that productive to begin with. The most important thing these people do in our economy is spending.
I think this is real to a certain extent; think of it as bureaucratic 'cruft'. However, it's also hard to spot exactly which jobs are bullshit; if it was easy, you won't have this problem of dead weight positions in big companies. There are almost certainly jobs that look bullshit but aren't, and vice versa.
....unless of course most of those jobs can be done effectively remotely.
If we'd instead had all the people now WFH not work at all the economy would look a bit different today, even if you'd kept sending them paychecks.
Your argument made sense up to this point, I agree we should have implemented WFH and Online classes years ago in order to lower traffic congestion and reduce our carbon footprint as inter-connectivity increased.
What I think you're missing is the critical flaw when we saw a massive hit in the Supply Chain, the Value systems within them responded in kind. I'd argue the Supply Chains remarkably broke down (specifically in food, gym equipment and toiletry). Distribution becomes an impossibility when demand far outweighs production and you have nothing to ship for weeks to months, or you have no one to harvest and it rots in fields.
> The most important thing these people do in our economy is spending.
Consumer based economies have this baked into the system, and is actually one of my gripes with this Crony-Capitalist system we've been operating under, but it has it's limitations: this year's black Friday which was a monumental failure by most economists metrics, but was actually a reversion to the mean wherein people have lost significant amounts of expendable income they spend this time of year (which is really debt driven) and overproduction was met with large price reductions that will likely remain. Target, one of the largest online retailers, had a month long 'black Friday' sale as did New Egg and these are the affects of supply forecasting done several quarters ago, perhaps some even from 2019. Unfortunately politicians make giving them bailouts a priority and the model never really seems to undergo the correction that needs to happen to reduce overall consumption to sustainable levels.
For someone who did Supply Chain and Logistics in the Auto Industry and is now returning back into it after a 4 year hiatus, its a Brave New World with immense challenges. Some things still remain, but it's definitely not the same animal at all.
This is nonsense. You’re saying Amazon should keep paying wages so people can use those wages to shop at Amazon. When put that way you can see it makes no sense.
The only thing that matters is that as we increase productivity the benefits are relatively evenly shared. If a 4 or 3 day week becomes normal for everyone and we still output the same or even more, that’s great.
This is exactly the idea behind UBI so the economy doesn't collapse under the pressure of millions of unemployed and unemployable.
There’s no way any company would pay wages to employees under the premise that it will keep their company afloat because they’ll spend the money they just gave them on their goods. Why not just not give them the money in the first place.
We don't have to guess how it plays out.
It's not hard to see that the scope of automation could increase in areas that would more drastically affect employment in the short to mid term than the other developments we've seen in the last 20 years. Either full long-haul automation or almost full automation with remote intervention could be a reality in the very near future, but almost certainly will be in 10 years. Call centers will be almost completely automated. Factories are automated to a much higher degree than they have been in the past. Every industry is solving problems with software that increase efficiency of workers (ie, fewer workers needed) and that trend is accelerating.
We can always say "this time isn't different". History tends to repeat itself. My point is: the trend is already there to see and the evidence suggests that it may accelerate very soon.
So far, there hasn't been problems with mass unemployment. But looking into the far future, when robots are advanced enough to do the basic labor of growing food, building homes, doctoring, shipping stuff around, etc. It's not super clear how much you'd really need human labor at that point, which could easily mean mass unemployment.
Of course, with the right societal design, mass unemployment could be a perfectly fine thing.
Local smallish grocery stores have expanded their order-online-and-pickup-outside offerings massively. Also a lot of hiring of low skilled labor to do the picking. One of the nearby grocery stores I shop at even rented a chiller container as overflow for pickup storage over the spring/summer/autumn.
Edit: The reason these small stores have been able to do so: They are franchise stores in a chain a with a big enough national presence that's able to do software development. Or just owned outright by a large central outfit. They have some kind of centralized inventory management.
Looking at my history, I made an average of 60 orders per year through Amazon while living in the US, an average of 4 orders while living in the UK, and an average of 5 orders while living in France.
I didn't realize I hate shopping in a physical store until I started using Amazon. You spend 99% of your time either wandering through aisles trying to find what you want (which they usually don't have) or waiting in the checkout line.
Neither of those things apply to online shopping. The biggest hassle when shopping online is having to login and navigate to dozens, if not hundreds of different websites, re-entering your personal info each time. But a site like Amazon is the Internet equivalent of a department store that has everything, so you only have to login once.
Even if Amazon's prices are the same as physical stores, or even a little more, the time I save not having to drive in traffic and waste walking around a store or standing in lines still makes it worthwhile.
Plus 500K delivery drivers , it's another 37 employees.
So 74 employees. How many did work retail in that 25K town ?
: The Swedish site did just open, but it's rubbish.
Is it because they won't likely to sucseed ? Or is it just a matter of time until they expand to more countries ?
^ There are differing opinions on what is "reasonable".
& It sometimes is, but is usually about circumstance.
For me, Amazon has become very slow since the pandemic. I only shop on Amazon when I can't find it elsewhere
Some would say this is the impact of late stage capitalism. There is no money left to be made on conventional purchases, but instead the profit is in trickery or deception.
No just satisfactory, but retail stores also need to learn that if they want my business they need to have interesting, quality products.
My local hardware store only has Philips drywall screws. Guess what, Philips heads are shit, that's why I'll even wait 2 days to get Torx head screws from Amazon. Hardware store wants my business? Learn that Philips head is shit and get with the beat.
My local Asian grocery store has the shittiest brand of Thai tea leaves. I get good ones from Amazon. Local store wants my business? Taste the tea you sell, learn that it is shit, and have better tea on your shelves.
We are part of the ultra customized product generation or I think the marketing calls it the "Jeans" generation of shopping. It used to be levi's only. Now even old navy has at least a dozen various on cut let alone style.
Philips sucks but what sucks worse is mixing screw types in an already built product/house. People still need them.
They are losing business because there is no route to competition on a local level.
Trader Joe's has an excellent model that keeps me going there. A huge amount of their stuff is decent and interesting. Although I can't vouch for their tea they have plenty of stuff that is original and well-priced that you can't find online easily.
They can't do that.
I'm not here to defend anyone, I'm just saying very matter-of-factly why I often don't use retail stores anymore, and what they can do to make me want to use them.
What you propose would reverse that and increase carbon.
Its also worth pointing out theyre moving to electric delivery vans
You forget that by adding a price tag on delivery certain purchases wont be made. Also I would certainly batch my purchases instead of going three times a day to the retail store.
which seems like a reasonable assumption for anyone
- living in a rural area
- living only close to a city but not within
- city parts with poor public transport connections
Also, the kind of product also heavily influences that. For more specialized products, people tend to be willing to drive longer distances, therefore making the carbon emissions worse. If the store doesn't carry the item but has to order it first, it also means you double the round trips. Overall, Amazon certainly has a massive environmental impact, including GHG emissions, but in terms of emissions, everyone going to the store by themselves wouldn't really be a better option I imagine.
I know that the US is very different - many cities are not necessarily pedestrian-friendly - but over here, the idea that it's more environmentally friendly to have stuff delivered to you is definitely false.
Public transport is certainly better than in some other countries, presumably better than in the US. But it still has to become a lot better the be an actual complete replacement for a car for the majority of people.
Yes, some people, especially with kids, might take the car when they need to buy lots of stuff, but when it's "oh I ran out of milk", people will probably just walk to the nearest store, or take a bike, etc.
I think the context here was that some people were ordering from Amazon multiple times per week or so and claiming that that was environmentally friendly which I find... doubtful.
Absolutely not. There's plenty of people who live without needing cars.
Not the end of the world but it does annoy me. I’ve been doing a bunch of shopping at Target since the pandemic too, to balance out reliance on Amazon. They’re much better at delivering items together on the day they originally state.
Companies already have a natural incentive to batch orders, because doing so reduces their costs. I don't think you need to lean on them to do what they already want to do.
Public transit seems like a promising solution, but only goes so far. With the strong automotive industry here in Germany, there is no incentive to get cars off the streets.
Impossible. Even if the car is powered by renewable electricity, each trip to the store contributes to wear and tear on the vehicle, and the parts on the vehicle were almost certainly not produced with renewable energy but with polluting sources, and plus the industrial process producing them likely produces some toxic waste.
Seems like Amazon Day should be tied to an address, not an account, but I guess it's an edge-case not worth addressing.
You're totally right that some current "winners" who benefit from the current state of affairs are fighting and will continue to fight it. That's the case of any major change worth making, though, I think.
If that means giving Exxon, BP, Shell ... a trillion dollars to just cap all their wells and F'off.... fine. Amortize it over 100 years and pay it down with the tax revenue from carbon.
And the only viable alternative until very recently... nuclear... is endlessly disparaged as unsafe by 'save the earth' types. So as far as I'm concerned, the green movement is equally culpable on the lying front. Should we charge the Sierra Club luddites too?
I was recently looking at the courier's parcel tracking app, i was interested recently to see that my delivery was '120 stops away'. If this is typical, the marginal cost of delivering a parcel must be small in terms of miles driven and driver time. (Obviously this is highly contingent on population density).
Another good example of this is Royal Mail, where the cost of a marginal piece of post or small parcel must be tiny (since the postman is already delivering to 50%+ addresses every day).
It occurred to me that in some situations, it might actually be more efficient _not_ to batch. The complexity of attempting to batch at the warehouse must be very high, and take up quite a bit of warehouse space, and slow down dispatch significantly.
A related and relevant observations why are courier companies not a natural monopoly? If the marginal cost of delivery were high, a courier company with higher volumes would naturally make more profit, and so the market would push in the direction of fewer bigger couriers. This seems to suggest that the volume of parcels means that we're already in a situation where couriers are pretty efficient and marginal costs are low.
It'd be interesting to know empirically how this works out.
I think you are onto something, that the courier business enjoys huge advantage from economies of scale. However, I think that there is no actual monopoly, because the advantage of higher volume in last-mile delivery probably
saturates fast enough that you can take it all at relatively low total levels of volume.
For example, if you have higher volumes, you can optimize courier routes so that they waste less time driving around. However, at some point fixed per-package overhead like parking getting in and out of the truck, walking up to front door, etc become so large that time spent actually moving between deliveries becomes smaller and smaller part of your time, and so optimizing it becomes less and less valuable. Then, the issue is how much volume you need to hit that level, and I think that the answer is "much less than monopoly level".
In particular -> It occurred to me that in some situations, it might actually be more efficient _not_ to batch. The complexity of attempting to batch at the warehouse must be very high, and take up quite a bit of warehouse space, and slow down dispatch significantly.
If first-world countries and their citizens can't be bothered to reduce their consumption and behavior, why should developing nations?
Especially the comments about "batching orders" somehow having an impact is just ludicrous. Aren't we in a thread about a company forced to hire more people because of the amount of orders coming in, forcing more deliveries? How does it not click in your brains that more orders = more boxes = more resource consumption = more drives = more weight = more fuel consumption = more carbon?
What scares me is that Amazon is getting so big that there will be a future where some products will only be online and only on Amazon. It will be too expensive for local retailers to carry them. Amazon will control distribution and supply. That is not a future I want so I put up with the inconveniences of not support Amazon, even if I am tilting at windmills like Don Quixote.
You’re effectively worrying that “this time is different,” which isn’t a good thing to worry about when it comes to humans.
The issues with Amazon’s treatment of labor can’t be solved by a few wealthy consumers like yourself deciding out of guilt to not shop at the place with the cheapest prices and best customer experience.
Workers all over the US are treated exactly the same way, but we don’t shed a tear for them because they don’t work under a big brand with tons of media attention.
Killing Amazon won’t solve the fundamental issues with the US’s lack of worker protections. We should spend our efforts working to fix that, not on conducting economically irrational behavior out of a sense of guilt from some news story we heard. Most people won’t be able to do the same.
I am also suspecting that the level-off will happen one layer higher. I.e. the economic relevance of the current incumbents within the US economy will not drop, but the global relevance of the US will. For a perspective, you can look at the German economy that is dominated by companies founded 100+ years ago.
This: am also suspecting that the level-off will happen one layer higher. I.e. the economic relevance of the current incumbents within the US economy will not drop, but the global relevance of the US will. For a perspective, you can look at the German economy that is dominated by companies founded 100+ years ago.
Because US government is getting in bed with Amazon, Google, Facebook
it is causing a double effect
A) They are letting them keep growing their monopolies in return for surveillance of Americans and non Americans
Which makes them stronger
B) US innovation is slowing down
For Example: Now most of US technology is around showing ads, surveillance, and basically treating people like stupid ATMs
They might be able to make it work for another 10 to 30 years, and then there will be big breakdowns
A good example is what is happening to Amazon in countries like China and India
And you might think, but that's impossible in our current climate! This time is different! But looking at it historically, the US changes course and its public opinion shifts dramatically all the time. All it takes is a few viral news stories and some hit TV Shows and we (as a group) change our opinion.
When public opinion changes, policy changes follow (with a 10-20 year lag or so) since the US is a democracy. Think Marijuana legalization, Gay marriage legalization, etc. etc.
If you don't like interacting with the law making political machine, you can try to help influence the public opinion side. Create media, PR campaigns, etc. There's tons of things you can do instead of spending time/money to avoid Amazon. They are doing nothing wrong based on the rules of the game we set up for them.
I aspire to have your optimism. :)
And if you want a more recent example of this, look at gay marriage!
How is this any different than any other company being put out of business because someone does it better cheaper or faster?
Would you have said the same about automobiles putting out of work people who work in and around horses and replacing them en masse?
Candle makers when oil came out?
Oil lamp makers when electricity csme out?
> about the way Amazon treats its employees - warehouse and office
You have no data on how others treat their workers vs. Amazon. Amazon is almost certainly way better than a local smaller type company paying less less benefits and so on. They have modern warehouses not the crap that is typically out there. I have worked in my earlier years in one of those. Nobody is forced to work at Amazon it's not the military where you are drafted. And you will always have a small amount of people saying they are driven to hard and outlier situations (bosses and supervisors). Nothing is perfect. Small about of people dissatisfied creates a large amount of noise.
> Amazon will control distribution and supply.
Ok so this happens and then if they get 'to big for their britches' it opens up for others to nip away at what they do (craigslist as an example maybe?).
> That is not a future I want so I put up with the inconveniences of not support Amazon
Your choice of course. I don't think of buying from Amazon as me 'supporting' them. I think of it as being able to get what I need for a reasonable price and very convenient. There are things I can order that I can have later in the afternoon and no hassle returns. Very generally I mean sometimes things are wrong but generally as we all know and judging by the business they are getting they did build a better mousetrap.
Guess what? I know they will raise pricing and I don't even care. I often pay them more just for the security of the ordering and convenience and certainty. Not everything is price price price.
"Thanks for reaching out. Unfortunately, we are not able to ship to Switzerland from our EU Amazon warehouse. [...]"
The most incredible thing is that this is a company based in Switzerland...
After learning about how they treat their workers (including tech workers) I try to avoid ordering from Amazon as well.
The long term trend is down. Data suggests that mid-level jobs are disappearing. They will be replaced with small number of very well paying jobs, but mostly by lower paying jobs.
This fear is what drove me to really change how I work. I do deep work on tasks for stretches of time and I've been doing a lot of personal automation.
I'm of the opinion that the future of work is focused on knowledge and creativity, but my worry is that that will leave out a big swath of people. Is Truck Driving an occupation that people want to do, or would freeing up people to do other things be a greater goal? Truck driving is a hazardous occupation, but it also provides opportunity for people that otherwise may have limited opportunity. There will surely be a transition period, but how can we create a large number of opportunities to ensure people are prepared for an economy with more robotics and automation? Maybe space ship building will employ a vast number of people, maybe indoor farming will provide new opportunities in an urban setting and maybe there will be new opportunities with implementing new forms of energy and transportation. I certainly think if you take a long term view the world it has trended towards solving many problems over the course of centuries, but we do need to factor the human element in or there will be another Luddite movement.
It's related to capital deepening and capital intensity. Capital as a factor of production is increasing and labour decreasing.
If you have both declining wage share and increasing inequality, it's good assumption to make that this is happening everywhere.
They are focusing exclusively on salary and even counting hours per week as a positive thing (!!!).
I had an Amazon seller account and they banned me 12 years ago over one disgruntled customer that I believe was just a competitor (I had 100% feedback from hundreds of customers before this) trying to shut me down.
I've been banned for life. I not only can't sign up with a new seller account, but if my name is associated with any other seller account, it gets banned for life as well. I've tried to contact support over the years and it just goes into a black hole and I get automated responses with no help or no response at all.
This needs to be part of a broader conversation: Do we really want to give big companies like Amazon this much control over what we can do online?
Otherwise I feel it's a chicken and egg. It's like saying we need Amazon or a similar big known marketplace so that customers can find you and buy from you, but at the same time, we don't like the concentration of power it brings.
So if nobody tries to open an online store on their own anymore, what then?
One should likely have both, their own store, and an amazon store
The fact that we do not shop at Amzn for those items do not really change the reality of ecommerce in 2020
My experience with these huge companies is you can either get stuck in Algo Hell where you either get automated responses or are redirected to people who can't help you.
Or try to get your story to the top of HN, that seems to work with Google
I was at Audible for many years, and at least within that section of Amazon this would have been very sound advice.
If any complex legal procedures, economic regulations, or necessary international standards must be followed to sell your product, there is a strong chance that Amazon's policies are being handled by a single GM/PM type who can directly handle the internal tooling necessary to remedy the ongoing issue.
At the very least, Amazon might suddenly talk to you or reverse their decision to ban you with a Congress person breathing down their neck.
Amazon, Google and Facebook have laid a path of destruction far and wide through this practice of lifetime bans.
Today these bans mean being excluded from the online business world (achieving scale is almost impossible without them).
If you're a farmer selling to a grocery chain, they have all the power in how your product is sold and marketed. If they feel your product is subpar, whether rightly or wrongly, and drop you, you have essentially zero recourse.
There are a few grocery chains with national reach (and they've been further consolidating), but none controls major markets (rural regions are often another story).
Amazon is World - China.
I live in NYC where Walmart is banned so we're left with the Mom-and-Pop stores + the permitted national retailers like Walgreens and CVS both of which charge multiples over products available on Amazon. We're talking like 300% more for items like toothpaste and other toiletries. And in-store experiences that flat-out suck. Everyone knows this and that's why practically no one cares about Amazon's bad PR or their questionable HR practices behind the scenes. In one ear and out the other.
Execution and customer service is everything and right now and Amazon's execution for customers has been amazing for a long time now. This isn't like a 37Signals space where you can one-down the competition. You one-up or go bust. I can't sympathize with your situation without more details being shared. Whatever your response was to that case must not have been up to Amazon's standards. It seems unlikely they would randomly pick on revenue generating sellers without cause.
Why would you even consider associating with them again? Ban them for life as well and do your business somewhere else.
The ethos of the GP was obvious, not to mention that many plantations were not slave plantations, but rather sharecropper plantations (which is most likely what GP means). So even looking at the metaphor from a historical context, there's no "yikes" to be had. Maybe instead of polluting one of the few remaining decent communities on the internet, your time would be better spent reading a history book or two.
HN is one of the last communities where I can see someone post a contrarian opinion and have an actual discussion about that opinion instead of it vanishing from downvotes. I don't ever want HN to become like reddit, and in that context calling out reddit specifically makes sense.
The sad thing is HN is slowly trending towards being like reddit as the community grows. I see more and more instances of people using downvote as an 'I disagree' button or posting low-effort comments. To that end, yeah, I think the community should do what it can to call those behaviours out.
They continued to sell "essentials" like wallpaper and flowering plants once they opened. But they wouldn't sell other items like the ones I needed. If it wasn't for amazon, I'd have literally been sitting in the dark, filling the cistern with a bucket.
That's amazon's killer app: basic competence and taking some vague interest in customers needs rather than profit margin and half arsing everything and being allergic to basic tech and customer experience.
(This is the point where everyone always kramers in with their personal beefs with Amazon)
Like many others, I use Amazon because it's extremely useful, overall it's simply a better experience than shopping at other places. I have nothing against small businesses, but when I shop, I don't treat businesses like charities. If small businesses want my money, they have to actually present a better service. If they can't do that, it doesn't overly bother me that they go away.
I'd rather say, like Starbucks, Amazon provides a consistent and adequate service.
Small businesses might provide a better service or worse service, but consumers can't easily know which in advance - so large conglomerates present less risk and less cognitive load. Amazon is the obvious choice, more than it is the best choice.
Presenting a better service is not enough, for a small business to survive against a monopolist. It's one of the monopoly advantages that Amazon has.
I've consciously tried using Google Shopping to get around Amazon (an company with obnoxious employees IMO), but the experience is so much worse - no unified shipping, issues with returns, lack of trust... It's just not sustainable.
walmart is bigger than amazon.
amazon’s share of retail in the US is around just 5%.
maybe i missed something...
it’s not all retail. it’s retail minus auto sales, travel etc etc basically anything that amazon doesn’t sell.
they have 5% of that pie.
offer a rebuttal if you can instead of attacking the commentator personally next time you leave a reply on this website.
i was actually curios as to why you considered it a monopoly when in fact the numbers are against you.
1. Monopoly (in law and in practice) is not just defined by what percentage of the pie they have; it's also about what power they have and what non-competitive behaviours they can and do engage in.
Claiming that Amazon is not a monopoly based on the technicality that they don't have 100% of all retail is an irrelevant claim.
2. It's possible to estimate Amazon's "addressable retail" in 2019 as a whole number percentage - that is already huge. There are few companies with that percentage in much smaller sectors.
3. You put it in competition with Bricks and Mortar stores in order to get to this figure, which makes your figure artificially low.
4. I understood your figures were from a 2019 estimate, although they were unsourced. Amazon revenue has been growing exponentially. There's now a pandemic on. Year-on-year sales have increased something like 50%.
And as restaurants show, you can win off of a better service/product compared to a big company.
But do these small businesses people champion offer a superior service? Because mostly people just seem to urge you to buy from them for moral/ethical reasons, not because they're better.
Example: a local book chain sells me a book for 10% more money and takes 4 weeks to order it - Amazon sells it cheaper and it's delivered 2 days later.
It feels better and yet its the exact same company.
I still vote for state-wide and local matters and that is where my vote really does count.
So not a monopoly.
Walgreens.com, Costco.com, Honest.com
All 5 of those popped up on Google/DuckDuck before anything from Amazon.
People have a limited appetite for friction when they shop too. An ideal store with a better return policy and selection seems to look a lot like Amazon. I'm not saying that it's good for us to invest all of our shopping into one business. It's just what unregulated capitalism breeds over time.
Companies like Amazon are of national interest and cannot be easily regulated by governments.
My proposal is to have a "social responsibility tax". That does not have to be necessarily be a financial thing.
Companies like amazon should provide adequate housing and other perks where they can utilize economies of scale.
> Companies like amazon should provide adequate housing and other perks where they can utilize economies of scale.
Sorry, but this is ridiculous. Why twist Amazon's arm into providing random social benefits, when you can just, y'know, have the government do it? Because that kind of thing is their job?
Imagine if you were like, "hmm, we don't seem to have enough public parks and libraries...I know! We'll force huge private corporations to provide them! I can't wait to go to Jeff Bezos Park, sponsored by Prime Video!" Would that really be an improvement over the local government doing it?
The problem is lack of accountability, corruption, nepotism and lack of vision (shortterm thinking).
It's easier for Amazon to find a way how to construct more efficiently housing that's adequate even for lower classes.
The government just need to set a quality standard for that housing.
Companies (except worker-owned cooperatives) are hierarchical and completely undemocratic, by design.
They are also focused exclusively on maximizing profit, not providing social services.
Replace democratic institutions with billionaire-owned companies and we just reinvented feudalism.
Indeed, unless the government stops them.
If you don't murder your neighbors and seize all their assets someone will do that as well, unless the government stops it.
Your point is less salient than it appears at first glance. It's not actually controversial that without government intervention people acting in their own narrow self interest will destroy society.
Are you not being overly pessimistic of human nature? Even in places and times of extreme lawlessness, generally society continues to function without everyone being murdered. Or perhaps you were being hyperbolic?
granted I'd personally rather not be living in such a time or place.
Typically in a generally lawless environment the prevailing means of social organization is what you call a mafia or warlord state, where small scale tribal sized areas become semi-stable anchored around a strongman type figure who maintains a monopoly on the use of violence.
In those situations survival exists at the discretion of the local warlord, who informally settles disputes and extracts whatever reasources they see fit, distributing the spoils to the militia members that keep them able to maintain their monopoly on violence.
This is easily recognizable as the default state for most of human history, and the state that society returns to when ungoverned. Examples include Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, various narco-states, and so on.
While functional, one very noticeable attribute is that it's not a pleasant way to live for everyone except those who win all the resources. Sound familiar?
Remind me, how many people are declining to wear masks and ignoring stay-at-home directives during this pandemic?
It's in Amazon's best interest to shutter all locals aside from what they own (Whole Foods, Amazon Grocery, etc). Their ultimate goal is automating everything they can to remove the human element and maximize revenue. You can see other businesses like Starbucks taking over as well in different fields. In my opinion it's a matter of time until Amazon starts their own attempt at local cafes.
We had presidential candidates in the US like Andrew Yang that recognize this effort and want to get ahead of it with UBI but I'm sure you know how that turned out. If the government isn't going to support local businesses in dire times, who will? And who wants to live in a boring world where there are no local shops?
I say that as someone who runs a business focused around increasing customer engagement with local businesses in small towns, but honestly it would take a monumental effort to save so many of these "general store" type of businesses that a small number of people paying the "local" tax on commodity goods isn't going to cut it.
Local mom-and-pop stores need to be looking for ways to differentiate from their mega-competitors. It's possible, and many stores are doing it successfully. But hardware stores? Selling bolts? Their only customers are people who don't use Amazon (older/rural) or people who need that bolt right now and are willing to pay 2-3x retail price for it. Especially in a pandemic where Amazon/Walmart are allowed to be open with few restrictions, but mom-and-pop has to close.
Successful small business going forward has to offer something Amazon/Walmart can't copy. Authenticity, experiences, memories. Escape rooms were a huge success story, creating axe throwing and fowling and other group activities, and often those places opened their businesses in the empty stores of businesses that couldn't compete with Amazon/Walmart and went out of business. Live music is another place Amazon can't compete with. A beautiful river-front promenade with park benches and an ice cream shop and a coffee stand and a vendor selling popcorn from a cart with some people getting ready to launch their kayaks while others are fly fishing, Amazon and Walmart and big box stores and strip malls can't compete with that. That's downtown, small, local. That's high profit margin.
Rather than clinging to the past where shopping local meant paying high prices on commodity items, we should be looking forward to a future where shopping local means "I can't get this anywhere else". That takes innovation. Grocery and bolts aren't innovation, they're commodities.
What happens if your country of residence enacts laws and/or regulations that make business unprofitable for Amazon (or the like)?
Better yet, what if enough people are put out of work such that there isn't enough demand for the economy of scale required for Amazon to remain profitable?
I assume you are technical, perusing this site, thus isn't a monolith, a single point of failure a significant risk?
Your perspective appears to be of wealth and privilege. What about those that can't afford a Prime subscription?
In a way if you are relying on the "community" to help your business stay alive, then your business is clearly not creating enough value and shouldn't exist.
how do you factor jobloss and destruction of your community into this 'value'?
At the margin, that facsimile is a superiorly-adapted species and evolution then takes its course. You have to modify the environment in order to make the unmodified you more competitive than the doppelgänger.
I think NDizzle's point is that most peoples' rationale goes economically as you did, and that maybe we should reconsider that.
Of course they can be had cheaper, and in a wider variety, from some huge warehouse further away. But then you can't get the job done this afternoon. The change from 1950s mail order is that the payment is easier, the shipping is (sometimes) faster, and that you might get the Chinese knock-off.
if that is an accurate assumption, what is the solution? perhaps a paradigm shift in retail tech that enables any manufacturer to engage in direct to consumer at far reduced complexity? micro/regional manufacturing?
For a while, you may notice Amazon has slightly better prices on things. One day you may need some advice on a project, so you go to the local hardware store. Except the store was eventually run out of business by not being able to leverage the same economies of scale as an e-giant.
I think of it less as investing in your local hardware, and more of investing in your community
Amazon eliminates all that friction. I can one click buy something and know when it will arrive, what the shipping will be, and the rules on returning it.
That's not to say Amazon is a saint by any means.
Currently Amazon has better ways to use their money to grow.
When that's over, a lot of the 3rd party sellers will be at risk.
I've worked with a lot of Amazon merchants where they would put up a item with a decent margin and good sales only to be reliably be cut out from that exact item by Amazon offering it themselves after 1-2 months. The core of their business on Amazon was to continuously hustle and identify new products that would fill that niche, as that made up for the biggest chunk of their profit.
So there are many 3rd party merchants at risk _now_ on Amazon.
Apart from that there are also numerous brands from Amazon themselves already. Most obviously "Amazon Basics" and "Amazon Essentials", but also many with a non-obvious name.
That sounds like a very risky business. How do they manage/lower that risk ?
The merchants where it was more stable had generally less of those products, and had a bigger existing offline business. Through their offline business they had bigger volume on those products and could cut a better deal with the supplier than Amazon, and through that offer them at a lower price. I would guess though that that's also only a very temporary position they can hold, as Amazon should be able to beat them in warehouse logistics and demand forecasting.
: As a silver-lining Amazon is pretty fair that if you underbid them even if they have the item in stock themselves, you will still make the sale "by default".
Should we have saved the 9,024 Blockbuster stores?
With amazon getting into the pharmacy business, I wonder what impact it will have on pharmacy chains which themselves put small independent pharmacy stores out of business.
Is this recent though? US made Walmart the behemoth it is. Also, chains like Target, Best Buy etc are also not your friendly small neighborhood stores.
Overall at the scale of the city it seems to me ( I don't have any numbers for that ) that consuming on Amazon is not a great deal long term.
Scientifically, it's simply evolutionary survival of the fittest. It's adaptation. By your argument, every sudden game-changing evolutionary leap was a pathology, which is obviously false.
Plus, there is absolutely nothing "out of control" about Amazon either. Amazon's a private enterprise competing in the marketplace like any other. It's just doing a better job at it.
> By your argument, every sudden game-changing evolutionary leap was a pathology, which is obviously false.
The definition of pathology is always context-driven. Worth noting that a massive bacterial infection is a fantastic success from the perspective of the bacteria.