Amazon's Prime Day e-commerce extravaganza has kicked off and deals abound for a bevy of in-house products and brands in what amounts to a big customer acquisition grab for the company's retail subscription.
The first two Amazon Prime Days rivaled Black Friday in terms of volume and sales. For Amazon, Prime Day lands more subscribers, who get shipping, music, video and a host of other goodies. This year, Amazon's big sale may also be a way to not only land Prime members, but also jump-start e-commerce via Alexa. Should voice purchases pay off, Alexa could lead to more impulse buys. Amazon is running special deals for Alexa.
But this Amazon Prime Day is a bit different because it'll be about more than deals on the Kindle Paperwhite and various e-readers from the e-commerce giant. Lightning deals only tell part of the story.
Why? Amazon's Prime Day comes as the Amazon-as-disruptor storyline hits its stride. Now Amazon disrupting markets isn't anything new. Amazon rewrote how enterprise IT is delivered with Amazon Web Services. Amazon has extended into everything from content and video to advertising to hardware to various services both physical and digital.
All Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods did was accelerate that disruption storyline. Prime Day is now seen as the death knell to all brick-and-mortar retail. Last year, retailers responded with promotions in kind. This year, some retailers are fighting back, but many just kinda wave a white surrender flag and close a few more stores. After all, how can you compete with Amazon when it nails free same-day delivery in the future?
See: Shipping to data: The case of Amazon Prime Day | Prime Day: A showcase for Amazon's engagement 'echosystem' | Amazon rolls out Geek Squad-style home services | Amazon's Prime Day marks debut of Prime Air cargo planes, a FedEx, UPS threat | Here's why Prime Day is more than a sale | How to make the most of Amazon Prime Day
I overheard three guys at the gym talking about Amazon's disruption and facilities build out. I take this conversation to be the equivalent as the woman down the street a few years ago that took out a ton of debt to flip houses just before the real estate bubble crashed.
Here's the funny thing: Amazon isn't going to kill all of retail. Wal-Mart and a host of other well-run retailers that can deliver a good experience will beg to differ. Nonetheless, Amazon's transformative Whole Foods deal put everyone on notice.
- Now there are reports about EchoStar and Amazon teaming up on a wireless network. Amazon would reportedly bundle smartphones with Prime and get more subscribers. This move is already playing out, but Amazon is just as likely to run a private label wireless service with an established carrier.
- Prime Day marks the first outing for Amazon's air cargo service. Enter your UPS and FedEx killer headlines. In reality, Amazon's cargo planes are really a nice trial run for holiday 2017 shipments.
- Alexa has grabbed early mindshare in the artificial intelligence race and has placed Amazon in a pole position for voice interfaces as well as commerce. Alexa is a household name now and developer dream. Developers interested in voice: Don't underestimate Amazon Alexa's platform dominance | How to become an Alexa developer: The smart person's guide |
- AWS is a juggernaut and an enterprise force. But there's also Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, according to Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant. AWS has launched a bunch of productivity apps to move upstream as well as databases. AWS will be a headache for enterprise incumbents, but will also be challenged. Amazon Web Services: The smart person's guide | Amazon Lex: The smart person's guide
I could go on, but the storylines all rhyme. Amazon will dominate everything. In many ways Amazon will, but there is history to ponder. How many times has Microsoft launched an XYZ killer that didn't quite play out? Google has launched a series of businesses that were going to upend markets, but many of them still look like experiments (perhaps Waymo is going to be a real thing). The tech industry is littered with companies that were going to squash all rivals and then didn't. Why? Companies can only fight so many wars.
What makes Amazon so interesting is that CEO Jeff Bezos knows this history. That history is why Bezos' missive on remaining a first-day company is such a management case study.
It's unclear if Amazon can remain a first-day company forever because world domination can also be distracting over time.