Lift all boats

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I’m a Prime member. I buy plenty from Amazon. But do I want to buy everything from them? No. And I don’t.

It’s clear that Amazon wants control of an outsize portion of my wallet. And with all the news about Amazon over the last few months (seriously, does a day go by without this company appearing in a headline?), I find myself wondering if its omnipresence is a great thing for the retail industry — or ultimately ominous.

It’s hard not to admire what Amazon has achieved. While the news that yielded the biggest crush of headlines revolved around Amazon buying Whole Foods Market, there was so much news coming from the Seattle-based company this summer that one needed a scorecard to keep track.

There was word that a discount version of Prime was being made available to those receiving foods stamps. New capabilities and skills were added to Alexa and delivered through Echo. Nike announced a partnership with Amazon, and Prime members were the first to be able to purchase the company’s meal kits.

Prime wardrobe is in beta, Amazon is testing a private-label lingerie line in the United Kingdom and an announcement was made that Amazon will start selling cars in Europe. At press time, headlines were heralding the launch of Spark — an Instagram-inspired shoppable feed aimed at Prime users — and a partnership with Sears that will result in Kenmore appliances being sold by the internet juggernaut.

And all that was swirling around amidst the flurry of Prime Day excitement. Amazon reported sales on July 11 surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, making it the biggest day in Amazon history. The event grew by more than 60 percent compared with last year, and more new members joined Prime that day than on any single day in Amazon history. The most popular purchase that day: Amazon’s Echo Dot.

Scott Galloway, founder of digital intelligence firm L2 and a professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, believes Amazon will hit $1 trillion in market capitalization by 2020.

Jeff Bezos built Amazon for the long game, and I admire that. Still, a big part of me will forever cling to the “some for all” adage instead of “all for one.” My vision of retail will always include being in stores where I can touch and feel product, where I can see new things and be inspired by the breadth of products and the creative way they’re merchandised.

I love a deal as much as the next person, and convenience is important to me too, but I’m not convinced that quality is something to be determined solely by great website photography. I also feel pretty strongly about supporting businesses that operate with a culture I admire and commitment to causes I consider meaningful.

Instead of fearing its quest for a larger share of shoppers’ disposable income, let Amazon’s approach lift all boats. Take a leaf out of the Amazon playbook and use data to experiment with new strategies. Focus on ways to reshape the customer experience. Experiment, fail and experiment some more — and do it quickly, because having one retailer control such a huge portion of retail feels ominous to me.

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