According to Brad Stone, a reporter at Bloomberg Businessweek, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wanted his company to be "an everything store" from the very beginning. Bezos first sold books online because he thought it would work, and it did. He then wanted his company to branch out into everything else, and it has.
But Amazon's primary goal is not profit. It's customer loyalty. Early on, Bezos gambled that if you captured customer loyalty first, profit was sure to follow. He was right.
Today, Bezos is the second-richest person in the world, and he wants the retail market. The entire retail market. Bezos wants shoppers worldwide to see Amazon as the ultimate destination for everything they need. Soon, that will even include food. Just a few weeks ago, Amazon made a bid for Whole Foods for $13.4 billion.
The one thing Amazon didn't own until recently was a holiday. So in 2015, the company created one: Amazon Prime Day.
Amazon Prime Day is a company-sponsored retail "holiday" that promises huge deals to Amazon Prime customers. The first Prime Day was bumpy, with customers taking to Twitter to complain about lackluster deals on meh products that sold out quickly. But 2016 was a complete turnaround. The day after the event, CNBC reported that it was Amazon's biggest sales day ever, with worldwide orders rising more than 60 percent compared with the 2015 Prime Day.
Today is Amazon Prime Day 2017. The event kicked off at 9 p.m. ET on July 10 and runs until 3 a.m. ET on July 12. Amazon says new deals will be offered every five minutes.
But as Stone reports in his celebrated 2013 book, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, Amazon's success comes at a cost. Profits are built on the backs of employees, particularly those working the grueling conditions in Amazon's infamous fulfillment centers.
As Stone told NRP's Fresh Air in 2013:
... I think it's something shoppers should consider. Do you want your dollars to support the local merchant and the employees that they hire? Or do you want your dollars to go to support a fulfillment network that is fairly invisible, that involves many manual and very difficult jobs. On the other hand, we can probably credit Amazon for probably creating some jobs in places where there wasn't a lot of economic opportunity. But nobody should have any illusion: Working in an Amazon fulfillment center is probably one of the most difficult jobs going today.
Want an alternative way to celebrate Amazon Prime Day today? Try this:
1) Get your food from an Upper Valley farm. (It's local strawberry season! Now there's a holiday.)
2) Shop a locally owned, fabulously terrific Upper Valley business.
3) Check out our friends at Local First Alliance.
4) Read this great article.
5) Read this great article, too.
6) Join a CSA.
7) Join a cooperative.
8) Play Monopoly.