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Friday, November 15, 2013

Amazon & USPS Altering Life As We Know It


Amazon has begun to ship packages for Sunday arrival via an agreement with USPS.  It is rolling it out in a few states and then expanding nationally.  This sounds both wonderful and horrific.

So what could happen as a result of this?

-          Brick and mortar stores will lose business to Amazon because people will now have the option of shipping something to arrive on a Sunday instead of going to the store that day to buy it.

-          UPS and Fed Ex will lose business to USPS, not just for Sunday deliveries.  Once Amazon customers get used to using USPS they may become the preferred vendor of customers.

-          USPS, which almost eliminated Saturday mail service is now, instead, going to be operating seven days a week.  For an agency that lost $16 billion a year ago, will being open more days be profitable?

-          Other stores will want to partner with either USPS or other carriers, hoping to ramp up Sunday delivery.

-          Making Sunday a work day for USPS and others will only add to worker fatigue.

-          Making shopping addicts even happier.

Here’s what it’s not likely to do:

-          Sunday delivery may, at least initially, yield more business to Amazon but it doesn’t necessarily create more sales to the economy.  What people had bought or shipped in six days now gets spread out over seven.

-          Amazon may not prove to be any more profitable with Sunday delivery.  It presumably costs more to get packages delivered on a Sunday but it’s still not charging customers with Amazon Prime for shipping fees.  Amazon, which loses tens of millions of dollars every quarter, despite taking in tens of billions, has yet found a formula to make money.

So what does it all mean?

Likely other online retailers, like ebay, will seek to strike a shipping deal.  So will brick and mortar stores.  It just means that every day is becoming the same as the next.  Where Sunday used to be a day of rest, it will come to mirror Tuesday.  There’s a shrinking respect for barriers.  Look at how Black Friday is now becoming Black Thanksgiving Day.  Stores are opening up earlier and earlier on a day they never used to be open.

What will this mean for the book industry?  E-books are deliverable 24-7 so nothing changes there but if someone wanted a print book for Sunday, now they can get it, but at the expense of retail outlets like Barnes & Noble.  It is not likely to increase book sales, for people choose their format based on price and reading preferences.

But Amazon is likely to grow bigger as a result of its Sunday move.  Depending on how you view the idea of one store selling everything to everyone, this is great or terrible.

It doesn’t seem fair or right that USPS, a quasi-government agency subsidized by the government, is only open for business on Sunday for a single company.  It sounds monopolistic to me.  Since when does the government sleep with a single corporation?  But I guess it’s legal if it’s happening.

I assume the next step is to deliver packages on holidays like New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Memorial Day.  Then it would be to expand delivery hours beyond the daytime.  Soon USPS will ring doorbells at 10:30 pm or 5:00 am.  There will be no escape from ourselves.

It’s hard to believe that in a few years from now the world of say, 1983, will seem unrecognizable to those living in the new world that is digitally driven.  Fewer things will be physical—music, videos, games, publications, work documents—and the whole shopping experience will have been transformed.  Everything is mobile, immediate, and temporary. Friendships, dating, and even eating dinner will have been altered by technology.  Nothing will be the same as it was all that long ago.

I can’t even imagine life 30 years from now, when robots do everything and humans no longer speak (but they’ll grow a sixth finger for texting).  The adult body of 1983 was virtually plastic-free.  Now bodies are altered by cosmetic surgery, legal drugs, genetically-manipulated foods, and a chemical-laden environment.

Amazon’s Sunday delivery service is just the beginning to remaking the world as we knew it -- for better and for worse.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013

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