Something happened this morning that I figured was worth writing up, just because it shows exactly why Amazon is crushing retail across all sorts of industries. What was once a simple seller of books has become a giant ready to deliver packages original TV shows and, heck, even the weather thanks to the power of the Amazon Echo. And that’s just scratching the surface. Amazon’s true power can be told through a quick experience I had while, admittedly, sitting on the toilet.
I realized I was running low on toilet paper, down to the last roll. I opened up the Amazon app on my iPhone and figured I’d just get some delivered, since I probably won’t have time to run out until late tonight. I pulled up the app, searched for toilet paper and then filtered for brands that were eligible for free same-day delivery.
Then I kept going.
I’d just finished a book, so I started browsing for a new one. I ended up picking four that I’ve been meaning to read. What had become a quick quest for toilet paper turned, almost instantly, into a $63 order.
What’s more important is that this isn’t $63 I could have spent anywhere else — at least that I can think of. Had I gone to the local Duane Reade pharmacy for toilet paper, I might have restocked and, perhaps, bought some milk. Amazon gave me a digital strip mall at my fingertips while I was sitting there on the toilet, and I spent six times more than I had planned to spend when I first went on my digital quest for toilet paper.
There isn’t another business on the planet outside of the grittier parts of the red light district that can get you to spend six times more than you had originally planned to. And yet, Amazon can do it easily, in just minutes, without a sales guy barking at me.
It’s also kind of scary.
Amazon knows exactly what I want. It knows the books I just finished and so recommended similar titles that, yeah, I am actually interested in reading. And it knew that I had just finished a book because I read it on my Kindle, which means Amazon was prepared to show me new books when I opened the app. I didn’t spend much time digging into the wormhole that is Amazon’s existence, but I could have kept going, browsing through new t-shirts, looking for a new backpack that I need and picking up other household essentials.
Years ago, you might have gone to an aforementioned strip mall and bought some shoes. Maybe you’d walk over to Michael’s crafts to buy some odds and ends, and then over to the Barnes & Noble or Borders to pick up a few books. Now, you can do all of this in one store, in 5 minutes, and the store is telling you what you need and want.
It’s stunning, and Amazon is only going to continue to evolve. The firm is reportedly working on its own shipping business and drone deliveries. Someday soon I’ll be sitting there on the toilet and, moments later, a little drone will come whizzing by my window dropping off exactly what I need to clean up.