Amazon’s Road To Retail Domination

If you haven’t noticed, Amazon is about to eat retail. It’s been working hard at changing the way we shop for years and is now poised to change the way we interact with products thanks to the Fire Phone. It’s been a long, weird road and here are a few milestones.

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Amazon's Road To Retail Domination

If you haven’t noticed, Amazon is about to eat retail. It’s been working hard at changing the way we shop for years and is now poised to change the way we interact with products thanks to the Fire Phone. It’s been a long, weird road and here are a few milestones.

Toys 'R' Us

Back in 2006, Toys ‘R’ Us trusted Amazon with its ecommerce offerings. Like the chickens trusting their eggs with the wolf, this partnership went south pretty quickly and allowed Amazon to take over holiday shopping for years to come. The result? Toys ‘R’ Us, once the source for toys, has been reduced to whimpering bricks and mortar mess with a web presence that has to fight Amazon tooth and nail.

Insane Return and Shipping Policies

True story: I once ordered a very large grill from Amazon just to see what would happen (plus I needed a grill). The shipping date was a few days off – less than a week – but I expected to wait at least five days before I could cook some weenies. The grill came the next day. This probably cost more than all of Amazon’s profit on the grill. Another interesting thing to note: Amazon is the only company for which the USPS will deliver on Sundays. Amazon’s urge to make online shopping seamless has more power than an entrenched government bureaucracy.

Kindle

Want to be an author in 2014? You’d better get on the Kindle bandwagon. Amazon did exactly what publishers wanted – slap DRM all over their books – and that led to lock in. The lock in was too strong for even Barnes & Noble to overcome. The resulting mess is entirely the publishers’ fault, even though they’ll cry unfair practices all day. They will soon need to play ball with Amazon whether they like it or not. The publisher that forgets this is dead by 2016.

That weird pink Kindle? That was our original mockup of what the product would look like before it launched. Scoops!

Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime and the Kindle go hand in hand. One gets you books quickly and easily, the other gets you things quickly and easily. Prime was the best idea Amazon ever had: it locks you into their retail pattern. It rewards off-the-cuff purchases even as it encourages comparison shopping – even when the comparisons inevitably lead back to Amazon. Prime tuns Amazon into a Wal-Mart. You’re instantly gratified. For many, Wal-Mart is many miles away and hard to get to. Amazon likes it that way.

Add in music and video and you’ve got something everybody wants.

Mayday

Want to know why Amazon added Mayday? Because they could. They had a massive infrastructure just waiting to field support calls. Why else did they do it? So we could all give Kindle Fires to our relatives and not worry that they’d break them. It reduced returns and made early adopters more willing to recommend Amazon products over similar Samsung and Apple offerings.

Firefly

Firefly is the way Amazon is going to stick it to retailers. Need a book? Take a picture of it. Want to watch a movie? Take a picture. Want to buy a product? Whip out your phone. It doesn’t even need to be a picture of a UPC code. It just needs to be something you want to buy and Amazon will give it to you.

For better or worse, Amazon is about to change retail. What happens now with Wal-Mart and the like is anyone’s guess, but it’s Amazon’s world, we’re just shopping in it.