Amid shrill clamor that Amazon.com Inc. should be broken up because it is vaguely “too powerful,” some retrospection on a continuing narrative that the Seattle company will “kill retailing” is appropriate. Those prophetic warnings were and remain flatly wrong.
Over the 2017 holiday season, Amazon did quite well. But so, too, did Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Costco and a host of other retail companies whose death has been forecast for years by many of those same economic pundits. The reality is that selling consumer products is a tough business, both online and at brick-and-mortar locations. To succeed, a firm has to remain hyper-competitive, committed to customer attraction and fulfillment, and vigorous in pursuit of logistics efficiency and cost reductions.
That is the lesson of Christmas ‘17. To survive in the Internet age, traditional retailers need to evolve and adapt. RadioShack, Toys “R” Us, Payless and Sports Authority could not. Like A&P and Woolworth decades before it, iconic Sears seems destined for oblivion. Macy’s is in big trouble, but has not succumbed, at least not yet. But other traditional retailers have changed in positive ways that enhance their competitiveness, revenues, and profits by offering consumers lower prices, increased “engagement,” and better shopping experiences.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, “This year, Amazon.com didn’t steal retailers’ Christmas.” A few pertinent examples: