Saturday, August 21, 2021

Jeff Bezos: Visionary. Back To The Future

This week’s theme is plus ça change, plus c'est la même chosethe more things change, the more they stay the same. That surely covers the Afghanistan situation, which I need to take a break from. It also sums up rather concisely this story, which literally made me laugh out loud when I read it: Amazon Plans to Open Large Retail Locations Akin to Department Stores. What a concept: bricks and mortar stores, the very thing Amazon set out to kill

searsSears, reimagined

Amazon started 27 years ago as an online bookseller but from the start founder Jeff Bezos intended it to become “an everything store” and planned for its explosive growth and ecommerce domination. Amazon’s virtual business model for discount books quickly killed every other major bricks and mortar bookseller in the country other from Barnes and Noble. As others followed suit, creating their own ecommerce businesses, traditional retail of all sorts fell victim. Today, from coast to coast, whole malls sit abandoned. 

rollin202Rolling Acres Mall, Akron, Ohio, before/after closing

Gen Z doesn’t even know a time when Amazon wasn’t the ecommerce behemoth it is today. They, and for the most part Millennials as well, can’t conceive of needing something that you would have to spend days or weeks trying to locate in actual stores around town and even then often have to settle for something else because nobody carried what you wanted. They never new a time when the entire world wasn’t your oyster, when things didn’t just show up on the front porch a day or two after it was ordered. Bezos’ business model, based on price and convenience, became the market in less than a generation.

And here we are today:

Amazon plans to open several large physical retail locations in the U.S. that will operate akin to department stores…The plan to launch large stores will mark a new expansion for the online-shopping pioneer into bricks-and-mortar retail…

Amazon executives have felt that bricks-and-mortar stores would enable better engagement with customers and provide a showcase for its devices and other products to shoppers who otherwise might not have tried them, a person familiar with the matter said.

Ironically, the first bricks and mortar retail store Amazon opened, in 2015, was a book store in Seattle.

amazon book storeLooks like it could be an old Borders Bookstore

The company has sought to innovate in bricks and mortar while building a network of stores that could glean insightful customer data and provide new shopping experiences. [ed. “gleaning” customer data has always been a big part of Amazon’s business plan.]

An expanded store footprint would enable Amazon to offer consumers a bevy of items they could try out in person before deciding to buy. That would be particularly beneficial in apparel, which can often be a guessing game for customers shopping online because of size and fit concerns. It would also give customers even more instant gratification than the quick shipping offered by Amazon for online purchases.

I guess you can call it what you like: instant gratification, boomerang business models, ‘everything old is new again’, plus ça change…the truth is it’s all premised on a form of predatory pricing, the illegal act of setting prices low in an attempt to eliminate the competition. It’s technically a violation of antitrust law as it makes markets more vulnerable to a monopoly”" (can you say “Amazon” - I know you can) However, like anything else involving crony-capitalists, don’t expect there to be any interest in such things at the Justice Department, they’re too busy not investigating the non-existent voter fraud in the last election.  You know, the election where the guy who was going to clear the swamp of crony capitalists lost “fair and square.”

The only trouble with capitalism in America today is…we don’t have capitalism in America today.

capitalism v crony capitalism aka corporatismCapitalism = Free Market; Capitalism + Government = Crony Capitalism: NOT Free Market. It’s that simple.