This week, Amazon launched its online pharmacy targeting the 3.8 billion prescriptions filled in the U.S. each year. Shares of major pharmacy chains dropped about 10% on the news. Amazon honed this weapon in its Seattle lab and is eagerly unleashing it on retail chains and mom-and-pop pharmacies.
Something struck me while reading this news: Does Amazon remind you of Covid-19? The similarities:
- Amazons kills many businesses in industries it touches. Pharmacies are now worried they may go the way of the bookstores and toy shops that Amazon helped put out of business. In my hometown of Rochester, NY, this new online pharmacy is bad news for indie drug stores, as well as hometown favorite Wegmans.
- When Covid hit America, the stocks of transportation companies, cruise lines, and movie theaters crashed. Similarly, each time Amazon enters a market, the stocks of that industry tank. Yesterday, CVS’s stock fell 8.6% and Walgreens dipped 9.6%, clipping $12 billion in market value.
- Amazon ‘kills’ by activating hosts, otherwise known as Amazon shoppers, inside its retail targets. A host inside an indie store or Walmart can scan a product’s barcode and shop for the item via their mobile phone on Amazon.com. The store becomes a ‘showroom’ for Amazon to take over the retail transaction.
- That’s not Amazon’s only fatal feature. If a company sells a large quantity of an item on Amazon, Amazon will reportedly cut out the seller and sell the item itself directly to consumers, thereby killing the seller.
- Any powerful pandemic virus has creative ways to spread to more hosts. Amazon calls its contagion strategy the “flywheel.” Amazon Prime, an annual membership program that offers online entertainment and deals on shipping, is a key way to infect more hosts. Once I start watching ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ (curses, it is a lovely show!), I tell friends about it, and they can watch by becoming infected...er, I mean subscribing, too.
- Two years ago, elected officials in 260 cities participated in a contest to win a new Amazon headquarters. That was akin to officials competing to win a superspreader event. Since that contest, thousands of indie businesses have died off, and the Amazon-19 has reported record revenue and profits. One may ask: why did officials seek to subsidize a retail virus instead of trying to stop it?
On the news each day, leaders speak of the need to protect our communities and the most vulnerable. We hear friends and family that shop on Amazon echo those words. I hope we start doing what we say: for indie businesses in our communities. Because soon, the only spot to buy a prescription against the retail virus may be from the virus itself.
Read the full WSJ article:
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