Amazon’s Dominance Signals New Phase in Retail

Ben Brooks on Amazon’s future impact

Essentially, I think Amazon is going to wipe out everyone that isn’t a niche player, or a store that sells goods that are of the need-it-now variety. What’s interesting is that I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing on the surface for retailers, but I worry about consumers if Amazon is allotted this kind of power.

This is the next progression in retail. “Mom and Pop” stores have died a slow death. No one buys things in non-chain stores anymore. Target and Wal-Mart carry so much of what people need, there is little reason to go someplace else. There used to be reasons to go to a “mom and pop” type place. There was a personal level of service that couldn’t be found at other places. Often these places were loaded with expertise that couldn’t be found elsewhere. But as time wore on a couple of things happened.

More and more things are “disposable” these days. People don’t repair things, they just replace them. This removed a service that many mom and pop places offered. Additionally, the internet became a source of information and reviews. This further removed the personal touch that mom and pop type places offered.

Price was always another issue with one off stores. Because they don’t buy things in bulk, or have the same infrastructure as “big box” places they can’t offer has low of prices. They can’t afford to have “loss leaders” just to get people in the door. As a result, people went elsewhere to save money.

Then there is a reliability factor. At least a few years ago, no one had to worry that Best Buy was going out of business. If someone bought something at a store and had a problem with it down the road a ways there was never a concern that they wouldn’t be able to return it. They would always be there.

There was a slow transition from mom and pop stores to chain retailers. The transition to online shopping has been similar. Five years ago, many people weren’t comfortable buying things online, especially things they would buy in a store. Amazon went from being an online seller of books to being the place to buy pretty much everything.

In the same way the transition from mom and pop stores happened, this is just the next step. Everything Brooks said made sense. Anything I don’t need to see in person, or need right away, gets ordered from Amazon (or another online place). I used to go into Best Buy once a week. I used to buy things from there at least once a month. In the past two years I probably haven’t gone in there more than five times.

But as someone who has always lived on the cutting edge of things like this, it doesn’t surprise me, it just seems like the natural progression.