Thursday, January 23, 2020

Peak........ Amazon?

I am pretty loath to believe in peak anything. We go through fads. Sometimes they come back. Sometimes they don't. But when I heard this term being thrown around yesterday  I really had to think about it.

Maybe there could be a peak Amazon.

It seems like people who write about peak anything feel like the world is very black and white. You either have brick and mortar stores, or you have internet stores which will eat the brick and mortar stores. But, the reality is - no one solution fits all. Some things you buy online because it's easier, but you still want to see certain things in person.

Which is really how I think most people shop these days. I shop like a boy, but you still need to go out and browse things sometimes. I will shop anywhere that is the least hassle. The internet can never replace that. And for now it seems that Silicon Valley is making a plan to claw back brick and mortar by thinking beyond Amazon.

1 comment:

Capital of Texas Refugee said...

A lot of things are a zero-sum game, so there's another way to ask the question ...

Does Amazon do enough things that are zero-sum games that it's open to being disrupted by someone who does those things better, cheaper, or in completely different ways?

The game that Amazon plays over and over and over until it's completely over played is "the Amazon disintermediation game".

There are limits to what can be accomplished with this particular game, and one of the "perverse effects" of it is that it can destroy markets in a way where neither Amazon nor anyone else benefits.

Kindle Unlimited is like this apparently: they sell all sorts of mediocre crap for people with close to zero discernment of quality, and anyone who thinks it's a viable conduit for quality publications gets buried beneath the crap.

That's actually something that Vox Day mentioned recently, so it's a good example of the principle in action.

"Zero capital drop-shipping" ... remember that?

Well, FBA works well enough if you're selling the same mediocre shit that everyone else is, and it doesn't work if you are selling niche goods that take a while to sell, but can sell at a premium because they aren't mediocre shit.

Amazon Prime is an example of trying to offset that by getting Amazon to warehouse goods so you can sell them at something resembling a price that's closer to the premium you're looking for, but even that's somewhat brain-dead.

Why not warehouse your slow selling but profitable goods with Rakuten instead?

It's not like their platform's short on customers.

So yeah, your line of thought's totally legit.

At what point does Amazon run out of clever commerce hacks and become over-run by better game players?

There are lots of things you just can't buy on Amazon, and there are plenty of things that are difficult to buy on Amazon.

Tried buying anything through Amazon.co.jp, the Japanese Amazon site?

Good luck with that unless you have a Japanese domestic receiver who can repackage your items for delivery outside Japan.

The fact that they haven't made this accommodation for non-Japanese buyers probably means that there are limits to how profitable such a thing could be for Amazon.

Is the Amazon model actually low involvement for high turnover of products so they make their money on minuscule percentages here, there, and everywhere?

Does this explain why Amazon literally bends over and takes it up the conveyor belt when there's too much difficulty with a customer interaction, such as dealing with a difficult product return?

Then the breaking point involves things that Amazon couldn't sell even if Amazon wanted to sell them, because they'd sell them badly, too slowly, or at a huge loss.

"The Internet can never replace that. And for now it seems that Silicon Valley is making a plan to claw back brick and mortar by thinking beyond Amazon."

They understand that these games have limits, and that there are plenty of good business opportunities that aren't capable of being gamed in these ways.

Let's ask another question relative to Amazon's original core market ...

Why is it that every small bookshop tries to pretend that it can sell the same stupid stuff as every large bookshop, but that they just don't have the table and shelf space to do it?

Here's my favorite book shop diversion on the south side of Chicago.

You can lose hours in this place as well as hundreds of dollars buying stuff that's probably never going to be available as e-books ...

Amazon might have touched their ability to sell the same stupid stuff as every other book shop, but they are still in business.