There’s nothing Amazon isn’t prepared to do to make it easier for consumers to consume.
Step by step Amazon is eliminating barriers, greasing the consumer skids to make it easier to get stuff into your hands. They want to be the only place you would ever think of to satisfy your lust for stuff.
They start by offering almost everything you can imagine. They undercut prices on it. They bring it to you quickly and let you send it back just as easily. Now they talk about flying your stuff to you — they are not only at the forefront of existing technologies, they want you to know they’re way ahead of the future game with drones to literally drop your stuff off, driverless vehicles to bring it to your door, and even keys to that door so if you’re not in they’ll put your stuff inside for you.
And they’re integrating sales deeply into your life, giving you a means to buy stuff wherever and whenever with your Echo gadget (“Alexa, buy me whatever you think I need”) and — if it’s too hard to speak what you want — stuff-buttons that you only have to push then wait for your stuff to show up.
Amazon cleverly haven’t got involved in the nitty gritty of the stuff you buy. If it’s not working, or it doesn’t work the way you’d like, or you simply don’t know how to work it, Amazon will simply take it back — easy as that. No fixing or troubleshooting or technical support required — just send it back then pop up to the website, ask Alexa or push the button to buy something else. They stick with their core competence — getting stuff into your hands — and avoid getting into the weeds with any kind of product support; very important as the stuff you buy gets increasingly smart (meaning complicated, temperamental, and even downright argumentative.)
Can’t integrate your network-enabled coffee machine with your learning thermostat? Send it back and try a different gadget that’s less of a challenge for you.
The last piece that Amazon needs to address, then, if it’s to become unassailable master of the consumer universe, is the delivery process itself. Getting the stuff into your hands is a blessing and a curse; if they can get rid of that bit then they will get rid of their greatest burden.
Think of it. How much better would life be, for Amazon and for the consumer, if all that stuff was never delivered at all?
Of course as a consumer you would still need that excitement that comes from buying new stuff, the pride of gadget ownership, of being able to rest at ease in the knowledge that you have acquired that thing, that latest phone, the network-enabled gadget that needs integrating into your gadget-enabled network. And Amazon still needs to sell you stuff.
If only Amazon could provide you with pride of ownership without the problems, the inevitable shortcomings, disappointments and frustrations of ownership.
And they can — they will, I’m sure, before long offer Prime members Stuff as a Service. You buy stuff, or they tell you you just bought it, and they keep it for you. They tell you what it’s doing for you, how useful it is, how it enhances your life. You can tell your friends — or not — about the stuff you have just acquired. But the beauty of it is, you don’t actually have to deal with it. And if after thinking about it you decide it’s not for you they immediately take it out of your life; it’s as if you never even had it in the first place.
With Stuff as a Service you get all the benefits of consumption without any of the downside of consumed stuff.
And don’t worry about the producers of all that actual physical stuff you used to own going out of business. In the world of Stuff as a Service, the producers just need to create virtual stuff with irresistible features and compelling documentation. No need to debate whether that new phone is as ‘gorgeous’ as the manufacturer tells you it is; it’s every bit as gorgeous as you imagine it to be.
I can’t wait; there are all sort of things I want to buy but I can’t be bothered to own. And I’m happy I can rely on Amazon to have it all in stock and ready to take care of for me.