How Amazon's growth will impact you

Paul Armstrong 1 September 2021

One of the most valuable companies globally is also the most pervasive, but where are they going next, and how will it affect you? 

Recently turning 25, Amazon is undergoing massive changes; a new CEO (Andy Jassy), new technologies and pressures from multiple entities worried about how powerful the company is now. One thing is sure; the next 25 years won't look like the last 25 years for Amazon...or you. Amazon has big plans for you, your money and your data.

They're creating department stores for you to shop in

Amazon parcels

The main site and shopping experience are unlikely to change much over the next few years unless the company is forced to by the EU or US bodies. Instead, Amazon is looking to get into the physical world for a few reasons; to appease those EU/US bodies that believe Amazon is a monopoly, and returning clothes and other items is costly and dents Amazon's eco-friendly corporate stance.

"The future of retail for Amazon looks to be converting abandoned department stores"

However, beyond this, there are still some things that people prefer to test in person rather than buy blind online, like cosmetics. Aside from the main site, the future of retail for Amazon looks to be converting abandoned department stores. According to a recent Wall Street Journal scoop, Amazon will make some stores into fulfilment centres while Amazon will turn others into Amazon Department Store.

Could your old Debenhams be turned into the latest experiential shopping experience? Quite possibly. Amazon has been testing out hair salons in London and Amazon Four-star stores in highly populated areas of the US. You'll likely not need a credit card either. Amazon has multiple cashierless “Go” stores already dotted around London (and in the US), with many more scheduled to be built by the end of 2023. 

You'll buy your food from them on the high street

The exterior of an Amazon Go store

Amazon is pushing into other vast areas of your life; food and health. From more own-brand lines (Amazon has +500 lines already) to biometric payments with your palm, Amazon is rethinking and planning a different food shopping experience for you, whether it's in person or via their app.

Food delivery is also an area that Amazon is interested in and currently owns roughly 16 per cent of Deliveroo, which delivers Whole Foods (acquired by Amazon in 2017). Previously mentioned “Go” stores will soon begin using palm scans to pay for goods (although this is unlikely to be forced). If anyone can take on Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose, it's Amazon.

You'll take Alexa with you 

Alexa speaker

While you may need palm prints to finish your shopping, Amazon wants you to be able to order anything, anywhere. Alexa, Amazon's voice technology, is a big part of that. Whether in your phone, augmented reality glasses, fitness bands or rings, Amazon is baking in Alexa into lots of devices, not just the pucks and chubby screens in kitchens and lounges. Amazon's goal is to be with you to know you better and cater to your needs throughout the day. The ones you know about now and the ones the company wants to cater to later. 

They'll be your doctor

The largest area of investment for Amazon is in the health sector because it's one of a few industries that offer it the masses amounts of money needed to please spreadsheets and stakeholders when it comes to growth. PillPack? Old news. Amazon has bigger plans for your health than prescription delivery. Soon to widely offer services from telemedicine (think Babylon Health) and insurance, Amazon already makes insulin and provides other drugs.

The US is watching their moves closely, the UK is less worried about this because of the NHS, but Amazon's health plays are a potential disruptor for many companies in the multiple trillion-dollar health industry.

"Amazon already makes insulin and provides other drugs"

Alexa is also listening to you; Amazon can now tell if you are depressed by the tone of your voice. One thing is sure; Amazon is about to know a lot more about your health, with and without you knowing. Expect health to be added to the list of benefits that Amazon Prime members have just as soon as Amazon can scale offerings and make it profitable. After all, +200 million Prime Members—who are already positive towards Amazon are a handy testbed for the company to refine offerings. 

You’ll have Amazon integrated deeper into your home

Someone using Amazon app on their phone

Amazon has begun to allow builders to wire Alexa straight into buildings creating “smart apartments”, but Alexa is only one of Amazon's technologies that will continue to change over the next few years. Expect to see more surveillance technology in and outside your home thanks to the Ring brand that Amazon owns.

From cameras outside your home to keyless entry, Amazon wants to deliver its packages more securely and directly (18-36 per cent of people in the US have been a victim of “porch piracy” in 2020). Beyond this, you'll soon be able to leave a drone remotely scanning your home in case of a burglar breaking in.

These services, mixed with Alexa and Fire TV Cubes, means Amazon will be in charge of more of your home than ever before. Amazon is thinking globally, too, soon launching an initial batch of satellites to supply fast and affordable broadband to tens of millions of people who do not have reliable internet. 

"Time will tell whether you, and others, trust Amazon with their health and even more access to their homes"

If you find all this a tad creepy, you're not alone. The EU and the US have colossal litigation planned, and new CEO, Andy Jassy, is front and centre for the next chapter in Amazon's future. While similar to Jeff Bezos in many ways, Jassy is more into sports, entertainment and how work fits into people's lives. These are just a few of the areas Amazon is working on.

The next few years are critical for Amazon's continued success. The company needs your money and data to make that happen. While a vast force during the pandemic, Amazon's next moves see them in new arenas (and territories) where success is imperative but not a given. Time will tell whether you, and others, trust Amazon with their health and even more access to their homes.  

Paul Armstrong is CEO of Here/Forth, the emerging technology advisory that created “What Did Amazon Do This Week?” which helps large and small businesses understand where Amazon is going next. 

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