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Old 10-01-2009, 04:36 AM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Can Amazon.com Become the Walmart of the Web?

From our front-page news:
When is the last time you went to Walmart to pick something up? Amazon.com? If you're like me, the latter was the most recent. I admit... I'm just not a fan of Walmart. It's not so much the people who tend to shop there, but the fact that the aisles (at least here) are too small given how many people there are in the store at any given time. I just don't like to stress out in a store just by walking through it, and since Walmart is the worst for that, I do anything I can to not go there, regardless of the deals.

So when I need to purchase something, like a movie or audio CD, I tend to either go to another store, or if the price is right online, I'll order it in and hold my patience until it arrives. I'm sure I'm not alone in preferring to purchase something online than off, because the convenience factor is unparalleled. There are some things I just won't purchase online, such as food or clothing, but for electronics or items of any other sort, I wouldn't think twice.

When Amazon.com was launched in 1995, it sold books. That's it. Over time, the service has evolved to sell pretty-well anything else, and according to the New York Times, within the next year, general merchandise for the first time will see more units sold than books, which is what many people still use the service for (I myself have bought books through Amazon.com in the past). The big question is, with Amazon.com's rapid growth, is it be possible that the company could become the "Walmart of the Web", or even better... overtake Walmart in sales?

The latter is an almost laughable thought, but I wouldn't discredit the notion so fast. After all, no one said that such a thing would happen next year, or even in the next ten. But with online shopping growing at an unbelievable rate, it may be mail couriers who really stand to benefit. Once Amazon offers color-accuracy on any monitor and the ability to smell and feel products they sell (hey, it could happen), Walmart could really be wary.


Credit: Jim Wilson (New York Times)

"Amazon has gone from ‘that bookstore' in people's mind to a general online retailer, and that is a great place to be," said Scot Wingo, chief executive of ChannelAdvisor, an eBay-backed company that helps stores like Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney sell online. Mr. Wingo envisions e-commerce growing to 15 percent of overall retail in the next decade from around 7 percent. "If Amazon grows their market share throughout that period, and honestly I don't see anything stopping it, that is pretty scary," he said.


Source: New York Times
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