Online shopping is becoming a widely embraced technology due to its convenience. Among online shopping options, Amazon is king. Thanks to Amazon, you no longer have to venture out to the mall or your local department store. Instead, you have direct access to a variety of stores, all from your computer or phone.
Plus, the variety of items in these online stores is overwhelming. You can find almost any brand or item you are searching for. You can order everything from gourmet foods to electronics. You can also order products from any part of the world and get it in just a few days.
As for businesses, Amazon allows companies to showcase and sell their products without the limitations of physical store space. For both businesses and consumers, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Amazon’s reach. If you think Amazon only impacts your Black Friday shopping, you’re wrong. Here’s how Amazon is changing lives as we know it.
Before we take a closer look at Amazon’s impact, here’s a primer on Amazon’s epic journey.
The company started as an online bookstore, but later diversified and began selling software, video games, electronics, clothes, food, toys, jewelry, MP3 downloads, video downloads, and just about everything else. Last year, the shopping behemoth acquired Whole Foods. Just last month, they made the long-awaited announcement regarding its plans to expand headquarters to not one but two cities. The company plans to establish secondary headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia. Today, Amazon is the world’s largest retail company. Their vision is to become the world’s most customer-centric company.
As you can see, Amazon is constantly evolving. We can only guess what’s ahead. That’s another conversation. Today, let’s look at Amazon’s influence on our lives and the lives of our neighbors.
Trust and Reliability
Amazon has been crucial in helping customers trust online shopping. Their ratings and review system drives this trust. Customers can easily browse through reviews and vet purchases. Amazon’s generous return policy also builds trust. With 30 days and free return shipping for most customers, Amazon’s return policy is hard to beat. Amazon made it easy for old-school shoppers to drop their “I got to touch it before I buy it” attitude. Thus, Amazon is changing lives by creating trusting, confident and at-ease shoppers.
Amazon provides speedy delivery and a connection to almost every corner of the world. The online superstore has made it possible to ship anything irrespective of size and weight to any part of the world. In fact, the weight quantification model used by the company has become the shipping industry standard. By flipping the shipping industry on its head, Amazon is changing lives. Amazon is turning the limited shopper, into the worldwide shopper.
Amazon’s wide selection of international sellers could open us up to a whole new world of products. A prime example is the plethora of Korean beauty products that got their start on Amazon. Beauty influencers were sending their loyal followers to Amazon for K-beauty products way before these products went mainstream. As various K-Beauty products blew up with positive Amazon reviews, more people were introduced to the world of K-Beaty. Amazon connected Americans with a whole new world of skin care products. It provided Americans a place to not only buy, but also learn more about Korean-style skincare. All this happened from our phones and laptops, over 6,000 miles from Korea!
Thanks to Amazon, consumers can enjoy delivery any day of the week. Plus, items can be delivered within a few days, within 24 hours of purchase, or even within two hours in some areas. The company is transforming passive, time-strapped shoppers into demanding shoppers. These shoppers know exactly what they want and when they want it.
On the surface, this shift towards instant gratification is good. It shows that consumers are empowered. Plus, it pressures competitors to raise the bar when it comes to speedy service. However, it’s when we dig a little deeper that we find cause for concern. Grace Roche of the insurance startup Cuvva summed up the concern over this shift towards instant gratification.
In a blog about instant gratification and technology she says, “The worry is that it’s doing us no good, creating a society of impatient and demanding people who are just a slow wifi connection away from a meltdown.”
The Human Toll
I’d be remiss discussing how Amazon is changing lives without discussing the human cost of keeping this e-commerce giant afloat. Amazon’s expansion plans in New York City and Northern Virginia cause some to worry about gentrification and a rise in income inequality in those cities. We’ve seen this story play out in cities across America. A large tech company like Amazon moves in. Housing costs increase and locals are priced out of the market. Often these locals are artists, nonprofit workers and educators who are the heartbeat of the city.
Amazon doesn’t shy away from these concerns. Last year, in response to the homelessness crisis in Seattle, Amazon decided to split one of their buildings with a local shelter. Mary’s Place is set to open in 2020 and is expected to house 65 homeless families.
A lot has been said about Amazon’s labor practices and its direct toll on workers. However, let’s not forget the potential impact of gentrification that Amazon can trigger. It has already changed lives in Seattle. Will the same issues arise in New York City and Northern Virginia?
As Amazon continues changing how we shop and expanding our world as an international marketplace, let’s understand the less obvious ways this company is changing lives. Let’s benefit from Amazon’s convenience, but not become obsessed with its pull toward instant gratification. More importantly, let’s understand how Amazon can change the lives of not only its workers but also the citizens living in its current and future headquarters.