My dad and I were on the phone yesterday. He told me he just ordered corn flakes via Amazon.
A click in the evening brought the flakes 36 hours later.
“How do they do it,” he asked?
My mom and dad, now living comfortably near my sister and her family in frigid Wisconsin, aren’t very mobile. Grocery shopping is tough.
We’re big Amazon users here too. I’m looking around my office at loads of items delivered to me. I’ve ordered on-line when I could have just gone to Home Depot, under five minutes away.
Is this a good thing? Over the short term it’s great. I get what I want with less hassle and for what’s usually the best price.
Amazon figured out how to get things to me fast using a variety of delivery services. It’s a data driven company. There’s a method to their madness, but no two packages come via the same route.
Over the long run I’m much less convinced all of this is a good thing! Staples announced they’re closing 300 stores in the US. Radio Shack is lopping off over a thousand. Retail’s in trouble. Malls are in trouble. Even Walmart is worried. Amazon is trying to hide in the corner, softly whistling.
At the same time, Amazon’s become adept at extracting favorable tax rates and incentives. A Google search for “tax incentive amazon” shows a half dozen states considering or already offering large sums of money to Amazon.
Everything I buy online I don’t buy in a store. Amazon fills the gap with fewer employees earning less money. I’m not paying today. I’m paying tomorrow. The jobless require assistance. It’s not the workers fault.
If the Jetsons had properly predicted the future, where George comes to work and immediately puts his feet up on his desk, we’d be fine. I grew up with that fantasy. But labor saving hasn’t meant making life easier for labor. The effect has been quite the opposite.
The convenience offered by buying online is huge. It’s only when you see the whole picture, it becomes suspect.
These are complex choices. I’m not rushing to a decision. It’s confusing.