Beware the Expansion of Amazon’s Empire

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Beware the Expansion of Amazon’s Empire

Lauren Cincotta, News Editor

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As Christmas approaches, many people spend a lot of their time and money trying to find a perfect gift for family members and friends. In the past, this meant camping out a the mall on Thanksgiving night waiting for Black Friday sales, or rushing through stores carrying packages and bags while Christmas music played in the background. Recently, things have become a bit more streamlined. Online shopping has become a new, more convenient way to buy just about anything. The company that comes to most minds when online shopping is mentioned is Amazon.

Amazon was incorporated in 1994 and was designed primarily to handle deliveries, not to have its own merchandise. Under the leadership of Jeff Bezos, now the richest man in the world, the company started small but continued to expand. The company grew quickly and today, Amazon offers a variety of goods including household items, clothing, shoes and other novelties. Today Amazon’s empire includes online shopping, Kindle e-readers, and virtual assistant Alexa on its smart speakers. Prime, a paid subscription that includes many perks for consumers, has gained popularity in recent years. The price of membership is continually increasing. The current price is $119 a year. This membership is worth the cost for many consumers. Prime subscription allows members access to two day delivery and free shipping on select items. Also included, Prime TV with original series and movies. E-book and music services are also included. There are millions of Prime customers all over the world.

Recently, Amazon began a search for a place on the East Coast to open another headquarters. After an outpouring of applications from cities across the country, hoping to be chosen, it was decided that the location would split between Long Island City, a part of Queens in New York City and Crystal City in Arlington Virginia. While the future may look bright, with thousands of jobs open at each location and additional money for these cities, Amazon will receive large tax incentive for each location. This means that Amazon will earn extra money for investing in these areas. In addition residents in Queens have planned protests with local leaders. These headquarters would be similar to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, used for shipping. This is a major expansion for a company that is reaching new heights worldwide.

Amazon offers users convenience in many aspects of their lives. It is easy to get caught up in our lives being streamlined and easier without ever thinking about the consequences of letting one company control this many aspects of our lives. As Amazon gains popularity more brick-and-mortar stores (stores with a physical location) are struggling to compete with a retailer that allows shoppers to buy things without ever having to leave their house. Most stores set up websites that allow consumers to shop online and pick up in store or ship to their homes. It seems however, that no matter the advancements in what brick-and-mortar stores offer, they cannot compete with the one-stop-shop model of Amazon. Recently, Toys R Us and Sears have joined the ranks of many brick-and-mortar retailers who have filed for bankruptcy. As more of these stores file for bankruptcy and close their doors, it has come down to what stores offer more convenience. The entire focus of retail has seemingly shifted to online platforms. Malls, a favorite hangout for teens through the last century, might be a thing of the past. Amazon is the king of the new digital market.

When stores are forced to close because of business taken from them by Amazon, it creates less diversity and competition among retailers. Having our needs met by one company is not beneficial. Especially when that one company is opening physical stores that do not require customers to wait in line or checkout at all. Several scanners and an app on a cell phone act as cashiers and other employees. In a future where technology would control these aspects of our lives, where could people work? Not to mention the dangers of having our credit card and other shopping data in the hands of one large company. Amazon’s technological advances are nothing short of amazing, but how could these advancements and conveniences hurt the consumer in the long run?

Not only is Amazon designing stores that would collect immense amounts of potentially dangerous information, and eliminating jobs for human workers, but they are also forcing other companies that want to survive in the Amazon age to follow the same design. By narrowing the number of options shoppers have and forcing retailers that want to stay in business to follow their methods, Amazon has created a world where it has too much control over many aspects of our personal lives. From where we shop, what we buy, the music and books we access, and eventually where we will work, Amazon has created a giant role for itself.