How Amazon is helping the little guy.
My husband and I recently bought an inflatable hot tub that we found on Amazon.com. Not too expensive, good reviews and easy set up, can be deflated to be moved when we eventually sell our house.
So we bought it, set it up, and started our chemistry lesson. We sampled the water, tried our best to balance the bromine, PH and Alkalinity with our limited chemical knowledge. There were some Amazon.com reviews that suggested taking a water sample to a local pool store to find out how best to manage the chemical levels, so off we went to find a pool store.
The store we found was on a street with four other pool stores, and it was the oldest and smallest store by far. Inside, an older, overweight, scraggly man sat behind the counter in a reclining office chair, while a woman who was most likely his daughter ran around testing the water samples from customers, answering the phone, and processing payments. He sat and watched the morning news show, and chimed in with his opinion when she asked, but offered little other help to her.
When he inquired about where we bought our tub, he scoffed. His store - and none of the other nearby stores - serviced hot tubs, he told us, because they were too difficult to manage and nobody was buying them anymore. (The tub we purchased had over 1,000 reviews on Amazon). He said, "Amazon is killing the little guy, and and I refuse to give them any of my money to allow them to do that."
The woman tested our water anyways, and we made a small purchase in their store to thank them for the help. They didn't carry what we needed, though, so we set out to find a store that would provide more assistance - which in all reality, would be Amazon.
I've thought about the gentleman's comments for a few days now. And since I have a blog that no one reads, I thought I'd get my thoughts on this man's real problems out on paper/the internet:
1. Amazon started out as a little guy - a guy in his garage who began an e-commerce company, after recognizing an unanswered need in his area of expertise. The pool store owner's reaction to Amazon growing to the giant it is today amounts to what is known as Crabs In A Barrel - if we all can't get out, none of you are going to get ahead, either. This mentality blocks the pool store owner from seeing the big picture, which I think is what keeps him from being able to innovate. His store was old, dusty, stacks of paper littered everywhere, disorganized - just the stress of those paper piles will keep me from returning to their store. Side note: Amazon.com has a plethora of decluttering supplies.
2. The pool store owner is not willing to provide the supply that the consumers - me and the many other buyers, even if they're purchasing on Amazon - are actually buying. We were not the only customer in his shop that needed assistance with a hot tub. No one's buying them? The stats say otherwise. But refusing to acknowledge the data is detrimental to long-term business growth - I found my data in a 15-second Google search, but maybe the pool store owner also believes Google is bad.
3. We still support the "little guy," and there is a market that is willing to buy from him, otherwise we would not have been in his store. However, we likely will not return - the walls were dirty, there were piles upon piles of paper everywhere, I'm pretty sure they had masks on to keep themselves safe from the pool chemicals that were littered everywhere (not because of COVID).
4. Get up and do the work. Yes, delegating is key to getting it all done. However, running your team ragged while you watch TV is the epitome of bad leadership. Getting ahead in life, in business, in anything, involves participation, innovation and an organized organization. I think this guy was stuck in 1985, so is his business, and his opportunity for growth is likely back there, as well.
Amazon isn't killing this guy. He's doing a fine job of that himself.