And Then Came 2018: A Turning Point in the History of Amazon and the Rest of the eCommerce Industry

We all love our online shopping experience. You go to the website, look for something you want, read the reviews, you press “Add to Cart” and from there to “Checkout” and that is it your package is on the way.¬†Amazon did a great job at automating this whole process, and yes they do deliver on time.

Amazon of 2018 is different from Amazon of 20 and 10 years ago. It was once a start-up making it easy and possible to buy new and used books in a fun and interactive way. Amazon of 2018 is a very strong company, which reached its highest ever valuation.

I predict that 2018 will be remembered as the turning point for Amazon and for their way of doing business. It will be a turning point also of the Amazon stock price hikes that occurred month after month, year after year, for the last decade.

(From: Yahoo Finance)

I have great respect for Amazon. I admire their success as a human being in the 21st century and as someone from the tech field (in Israel). BUT… and there is a great “BUT”. I admire Amazon but they have succeeded too much. They have succeeded in a way our minds cannot capture and have effected whole economies. They have OVER succeeded as much as it is hard to say. They have succeeded¬†but have left a very painful reality behind them.

Just walk in the streets of New York or in other cities around the world (I used to live in NY), and what you see are so many “FOR LEASE” signs on many large and small retail spaces. It is a nightmare for anyone loving New York city to see so many stores standing empty.

And I have to say it in a very clear way. Amazon and the rest did nothing wrong, and are not to be blamed. They did what they could do in order to “reach the sky”. They made their dream a reality. The problem is that whole economies were not ready enough for the amazing success of such ecommerce companies. Competition is “holy” in today’s world but what happens when your “competitors”, vendors and small business owners are now fighting for their lives? Is it not OK to ask for more balance in this arena? Is it not a legitimate concern to make sure people in our communities have jobs. Those youngsters who gave us shirts or pants when we when to buy clothing at any store will have no jobs in the coming future if nothing changes. Shouldn’t we be a concern for us as a community and as a society?

Based on some news reports, I understand that such eCommerce companies usually don’t pay local taxes, creating a direct advantage over local physical stores. How can one compete if his competitor automatically can offer the same product with a 10%-15% discounts? People often tell me that the lowest price is what is leading them to buy on line, but they forget that their city centers are about to change dramatically. Is that what they want for the development of their cities? Do they understand that those retail spaces, if not rented, will damage their city centers, and potentially, over time, make them become “ghost towns”.

I hate to be sounding harsh, but eCommerce is great but it needs to be more balanced. We, the people, need to pay more attention to the local communities, and make sure that the growth of the ecommerce giants, is not at the price of the crushing of other retail options, like the physical stores. We need to make sure we don’t forget the benefits of physical shopping. Our health depends on it. Walking in fresh air, moving our bodies, socializing, saying hello to actual people. Replace all of that for talking to a computer?? Who says this is better?? All of this was taken from us and we need to wake up. More balance is not a harsh thing to ask for. Shop local and support your community. Shop local and give respect to the older vendors who want to be in the game but will never get the online way of doing business.

I have to close with a sweet memory of the small grocery store, managed by Naji and Noory, two brothers who made Aliya from Iraq, who made sure to be there day after day, making sure we had fresh bread and milk products every morning before we go to school. I will not forget the clothing store of our neighbor Chatun, that her husband used the back of her store to run his small hair styling business. For these people and for small businesses from all around the world we need more balance between physical retail and digital retail.

2018 will be a turning point for the eCommerce sector and for Amazon, eBay, and all the rest. I am sure!

By: Shahar Alon, Tel Aviv, April 1, 2018

shaharalon@gmail.com

About the Author
Shahar Alon works as an attorney at Checkmarx, an Israeli cyber security company. He is a member of the Israel and the New York Bar associations. In the past, he worked at the Israeli consulate in New York, and was a part of the Economy Mission. Also in the past, he has worked at the Legal Department of the Knesset. In his life, he lived for a year or more in Canada, the USA, in Venezuela, and in Hong Kong.
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