Is Amazon Trying to Turn Us All Into Drones?
For more than two decades, Amazon.com has dominated the e-commerce industry by doing two things better than anyone else. On the one hand, its website and mobile apps are extremely easy to use and packed with useful information. Amazon’s display of suggested products, reviews and promotions all drive sales and customer loyalty. Consumers know that while Amazon may not always offer the lowest price, it often does. Beyond price, shoppers understand that Amazon is a streamlined and contextual shopping engine, making the process of examining one product after another almost unconscious. If point A is the product you came to look for and point B is the checkout page, Amazon makes sure that road takes you through lots of detours.
On the other hand, Amazon’s state-of-the-art fulfillment centers store a massive variety of products which, when combined with the offerings of its third-party sellers, ensures that virtually anything can be ordered through Amazon and received faster and often cheaper than through another retailer. The business logic driving the fulfillment centers runs counter to how the e-commerce interface thinks, focusing on automation, reliability and cost cutting so that products get from point A to point B without interference or inconvenience. The promise of fast and free delivery itself drives consumers to Amazon and is a crucial component of its growth.
Which is the essence of #thatamazonlife? The thrill of the chase for products while shopping on the site or the reassuringly steady stream of boxes arriving at your door?
Automating the Shopper
When examining some recent innovations from Amazon, it’s hard not to wonder whether the fulfillment logic has encroached on the shopping experience itself. Notably, Amazon Dash lets shoppers scan products in their homes, while branded “Dash” buttons allow one-touch reordering of specific products. The program also includes the “Dash Replenishment Service” (DRS) for manufacturers to build automated Amazon reordering into their products. Similarly, Amazon Mom lets shoppers subscribe for automatic reordering of diapers and other baby products. With these offerings, Amazon seems to be luring users away from getting lost on their website or app in favor of an experience that highlights its fulfillment prowess. Like its unpiloted drones that have captured our imagination, Amazon seems to want to automate you, the shopper, as well as the experience of ordering and shipping your products.