Smartphones may prove to be an Achilles’ heel for Amazon, in the view of a columnist for The New York Times. At the same time, smartphones might be a lifeline for local retailers, including those on or near college campuses.
“Like many of the local and big-box retailers it has displaced over the last decade and a half, Amazon could itself become increasingly vulnerable to the threat of technological upheaval,” wrote Farhad Manjoo.
The “upheaval” is the rapidly rising trend of shopping by phone. Obviously, consumers have been able to shop online from their computers for a couple decades now, but the ubiquity of smartphones means a lot of people have fast, private access to e-commerce all the time, no matter where they are.
The thing is, Manjoo noted, all those phone shoppers aren’t necessarily going to Amazon. Physical retail chains, as well as local mom-and-pop stores, have ramped up their website features, added more merchandise, and trimmed their prices.
They’ve also plugged into ordering and courier services such as Postmates and Instacart. Consumers can just as easily browse and purchase from local merchants, often with same-day delivery or pickup, as they can with Amazon.
“None of these technologies pose an existential threat to Amazon, but by giving physical stores some of the conveniences that Amazon has long had, they may limit its potential reach,” Manjoo said.