Can Other Companies Hope to Take on Amazon?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you probably know that Amazon is one of the most successful retailers in the world. With its wide selection, low prices and fast shipping, Amazon doesn’t just dominate the online marketplace — it dominates the marketplace, period. Physical stores and other online retailers have long worried that Amazon may put them out of business. While they’re hanging on — at least for now — one of the biggest challenges will be competing with Amazon in the future. While Amazon is a huge successful company, no business is perfect. Here are a few areas in which other businesses can compete with the online giant in the future.
While Amazon has apps that allow you to compare its products with those in stores, it’s still lacking its own physical store. Even if you do think of brick-and-mortar businesses as showrooms for Amazon’s products, online ordering lacks a sense of immediacy. If you have Amazon Prime, you still have to wait two days to receive your purchase. One way to blend the convenience of online ordering with the immediate gratification of physical shopping is through an online wallet.
With such a “wallet” you could use your smart phone to purchase items as you view them in-store — this would eliminate the need for cash and credit cards. Sometimes you may not even have to wait in line. For example, in over 200 Walmart stores, you can make purchases on your smart phone without ever having to go to the cash register. Similarly, an app called Uber allows you to hail a cab and pay your fare from the convenience of your phone.
eBay is currently working on its own online wallet, known as Money 3.0, which will help blend online and in-store shopping. With the app, you could make a purchase on eBay’s website, then go into a store and pick up the product. You wouldn’t even have the take the phone out of your pocket. The possibilities of the app are virtually limitless — if you’re going to a restaurant you could order from the car and have your meal waiting for you. If you’re at a sporting event and the jersey you want to buy is sold out, you could order it from the app and have it shipped to your home.
Personal Services and Product Interaction
While Amazon has a very wide selection of products, it doesn’t have everything. For example, you can’t buy massage therapy, a haircut or a stay at a luxury rehab center. Another way businesses could compete with Amazon would be to offer or partner with these kinds of services. Groupon is one example of a retailer that allows you to purchase personalized services on its website before you ever arrive at a salon or care center in person.
Despite the popularity of online shopping, some people still like walking into a store and being able to touch the product they are about the buy. Technology could assist these shoppers so physical stores would have an edge over Amazon. For example, you could use an app to check into a store and see everything available in your size. Eventually, you may even be able to look into a mirror and have it tell you which clothes will look best on your frame.
Same Day Shipping
Another disadvantage Amazon has is that most of its products ship from its warehouse in Kentucky. That means there’s some delay in shipping to customers who are some distance away. If online retailers could partner with local stores, consumers could order a product online and have it delivered to their homes almost immediately. Some businesses have already implemented this policy; for example, eBay has a service called eBay Now where you can have a purchase delivered in under an hour for a $5 fee.
While Amazon certainly dominates retail shopping for now, who knows what the future holds? Maybe in five years, there will be very few people who still use Amazon for online shopping.