Have you ever wondered about the crazy ways Amazon has changed shopping? Perhaps only once in a hundred years does a company come around that radically changes everything. Amazon started as a startup by Jeff Bezos in 1994. Since then, it’s grown to a massive company that makes $61 billion in annual revenue and employs thousands of people. Not only has it played a part in bringing down huge corporations, but it’s radically shifted the shopping environment altogether. Here are 25 Crazy Ways Amazon Changed Shopping.
Before Amazon released “1-Click Shopping,” the ability to order something easily and quickly online, most people always had to enter their credit card information in every time they ordered something, making it a major hassle. Amazon making things easier changed expectations and shoppers started to demand the same experience elsewhere.
Selling Used Books
When Amazon started selling used books next to new books, it was a big deal at the time and kind of taboo. However, this option suddenly opened up bookselling for both bookworms and booksellers. Rather than having a book rot in a landfill, it could be put up online instead. Now, when you buy a book online, it’s likely you go directly to the used book section first before buying new.
When Amazon first revealed their Kindle, it was a massive game changer for publishing. Suddenly, authors could bypass gatekeepers and get their books in front of many eyes. It’s likely you started reading books you would have never touched before because it came up on Amazon and looked like a good read.
Before Amazon, at most retailers, unless there was a sale or clearance, most prices were always fixed, and it was difficult to price compare on the fly. When Amazon introduced Dynamic Pricing, everything changed. First, it created pricing that wasn’t based on regional location, and second, it allowed for prices to fluctuate based on many other factors in the market, potentially giving consumers a great deal.
Convenient Comparative Pricing
With the dawn of smartphones and Amazon’s shopping app, the ability to scan and compare prices while shopping at other stores drastically changed how people shopped. Now, rather than accepting a price at Target, you probably check Amazon to see if you can get it cheaper.
A big complaint among many consumers was lack information. Usually, you’d purchase something in the hope it would work out. For better or worse, Amazon’s reviews changed everything. Most people now look up items on Amazon and check their reviews before shopping, becoming much more selective in their purchases.
It's The First Stop
When they need to go shopping, many consumers now go to Amazon first before anywhere else. As you can imagine, that gives Amazon a big leg up over other retailers.
With all these new shopping abilities, Amazon created a phenomenon called “Showrooming.” Over the years, people developed habits of deliberately going to retailers, like Target or Best Buy, to look at a product but with the intention of getting it on Amazon.
Unconventional Return Policies
For some items on Amazon, when you say you want to return it, Amazon will just tell you to keep the item. The cost of shipping it back is too much of a hassle, and it offers them a load of good will. Many now expect the same customer service at other retailers.
Brick and Mortar
Amazon has become so popular that most people just aren’t shopping at brick and mortar stores like before, resulting in several big name brands like Toys R’ Us and Sears to file for bankruptcy. Ironically, Amazon has revealed they’ll be creating more of their own brick and mortar stores called “Amazon Go.” However, unlike most stores, Amazon Go won’t have any checkout or clerks, allowing you to purchase items just by taking stuff off the shelves and leaving.
While Amazon didn’t invent this phenomenon, it arguably helped usher it into a mainstream audience. Originally used by the National Retail Federation in 2005, Amazon started using it in 2008, resulting in 21% increase in traffic, becoming the number one online retail site on Cyber Monday that year. Due to this massive spike, other retailers in later years expanded the sale to “Cyber Week.” Online competition around that time has been fierce ever since.
Naturally, this feature has been around for much longer than Amazon, but when they introduced their Amazon video streaming services through their Prime subscription, people gradually wandered away from their cable provider, Blockbuster, and other entertainment providers. The convenience of online streaming has drastically shifted the movie and television markets.
Internet of Things
On top of instant streaming, Amazon has released a whole host of gadgets for your shopping and entertainment needs. From the artificially intelligent Alexa device to the very recent Amazon WiFi microwave, Amazon’s changed how people shop through their everyday devices.
Long gone are the days of waiting in long lines at several stores throughout the day for Christmas shopping. All you have to do is spend a few hours on Amazon and you’re done.
3rd Party Vendors
Rather than sell all the products themselves, Amazon allows 3rd party vendors, retailers, and individuals to have a piece of their marketplace. With so many sellers and businesses involved, chances are you’ve purchased products from tons of different companies on Amazon and didn’t even realize it.
Before Amazon, shipping and handling costs weighed down online shopping. It was costly and too much of a burden. Once Amazon introduced free shipping, the game radically changed, making everyone expect free shipping from other stores.
Before Amazon, when you purchased products online, it could take weeks to get it. Now, with two-day and one-day shipping, not only are you buying things online more, but you’re expecting others to be faster with their shipping times. Other stores are trying to keep up, knowing you want faster shipping.
When you walk into a Target, you immediately know you’ll have a limited selection of things to look at. Amazon changed that, too. They’ve created what’s been coined the “endless aisle,” providing a whole host of products that seems like it goes on forever. With such large quantities, it’s made everyone believe that Amazon has everything.
Before Amazon started listing very unique and niche products, chances are you had to go from store to store to find anything similar. However, thanks to their endless aisle, you can conveniently pick up whatever bizarre product you want with ease.
While Amazon crafted a shopping environment of the endless aisle, it also understands the power of limited sales, quantities, and locations. Enter the Amazon Treasure Truck. Every day, in 25 cities across America, Amazon drives a truck with one item and texts customers signed up with the sale of the day. They can purchase the item online and pick it up at the truck.
Amazon took delivery even further with this feature, allowing guests to enter your home and put the box inside or even load your refrigerator with groceries.
Buying Groceries Online
For a long time, buying groceries online seemed like a pipe dream, but today it’s a reality, and many companies want in on it. You, of course, have Amazon to thank for that. When they started to increase their grocery delivery business, other companies followed suit, trying to keep up. Now, grocery delivery is more popular than ever.
Shopping by Voice
Amazon made shopping their store even easier with their artificially intelligent device, Alexa. If you have one at home, all you have to do is ask Alexa to buy something for you, and it’ll happen in an instant.
When Amazon started their Prime subscription, it was initially for people who wanted 2-day shipping, but that grew over time, including Prime Video, Music, Cloud storage space, etc… Prime subscribers have steadily risen over the years, drastically changing the retail landscape and creating a whole new shopping environment.
Amazon Prime Day
Like Cyber Monday or Black Friday, Amazon made their own sales day called “Prime Day.” When it first released, people were skeptical, but overall it’s proved a wild success for Amazon. People now expect and wait for Prime Day every year, planning some of their shopping around it.