Photo by Patricia Porter
BY ANDIE HUNT, BLOGGER
Every time Amazon makes a sale, one sale is lost for a local independent business. Brick and Mortar storefronts are on the verge of turning obsolete. In the wake of a pandemic, these independent business owners have been forced to make a choice between keeping their business open, or protecting their health.
Amazon, on the other hand, has kept business as usual. Although the pandemic has caused local businesses to go bankrupt, AmazonCEO Jeff Bezos recently became the first person to amass a fortune of over $100 billion. A share of Amazonstock has also reached an all-time high of $3,000, as reported by the NASDAQ.
The convenience of ordering goods from Amazon is all too alluring. The no-contact service seems like the best decision while in quarantine, and the company provides a seemingly endless variety of inventory for the lowest prices on the market. The business structure, however, makes profit for Amazon optional.
Amazon’s anti-competitive behavior of entering each industry to set prices for significantly less than the competition makes it the only choice for cost-conscious consumers. In addition, the low prices create barriers to market entry for other businesses that can’t compete.
Once every other alternative has been driven out of business, such as a neighborhood hardware store or boutique, Amazon can set whatever price it wants. Though its structure begins by selling at a loss, it pays off in the end.
Some local business owners choose to sell through Amazon because of its international audience reach and convenient distribution chain. This works for the brand until Amazon goes over these sellers’ heads and uses their data to create competing products in order to cut prices and the middle man, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Amazon warehouse employees are at risk, too. As it has expanded its online store, Amazon has also acquired companies in robotics and artificial intelligence. These efforts to automate the labor force has eliminated 1,300 jobs across the company’s 55 fulfillment centers, according to Business Insider.
The remaining employees recently demanded improved working conditions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but their requests went ignored. Without help from Bezos or upper management, many employees protested by calling out sick. The protest’s organizer, who worked at the New York warehouse, was fired for speaking out.
These controversial business practices can be avoided by spending money where it counts. Money is the only leverage consumers have over large corporations. A purchase from a local independently-owned store means that money will stay in the local economy and more jobs will be created.
According to Forbes, every $10 million spent at local businesses generates 57 jobs, while the same amount spent at Amazon generates 14 jobs. By becoming a conscious consumer, shoppers possess the power to keep their locally owned shops in business and allow their communities to thrive.