I used to love supporting my local stores. I’d see signs in shop windows that encouraged customers to “support the local high-street” and punch the air feeling good that I was part of the rebellion against giant mega corporations ruining Britain’s local communities. I’d go to my local baker and buy some rolls for lunch, shop for some new clothes, or visit an electronics store to pick up some type of adapter for all my USB Type-C needs. I’d always scout around for bargains, and shop both online and in stores. All of that changed nearly six months ago, thanks to Amazon.
I've always been wary about spending £79 ($99 equivalent) a year on Amazon Prime. Would I really buy enough things online to make it worth it? Would I actually watch the TV shows? Amazon swayed me with a deal on the Amazon Prime subscription to celebrate the unveiling of Top Gear replacement The Grand Tour. The price dropped by £20 ($25), and as I was about to move to a new apartment it felt like the ideal time to experiment with Amazon Prime.
I've used it a lot. I've used it so much that I'm actually slightly concerned at the ease of being able to click and have goods arrive. I ordered some lightbulbs on Amazon Prime Now and they arrived at 11PM, less than two hours after I'd ordered them. I've ordered food, beer, clothing, batteries, household goods, cleaning products, and many more things and they all arrive the next day or the same evening if I want them to. Amazon's distribution network is unbelievably good in London, and its reliability keeps me coming back.
I even have little buttons dotted around my house that let me order things from Amazon. I have ones for toilet paper, laundry detergent, trash bags, and dishwasher tablets. They're Amazon Dash buttons and you simply hit the button and replacements arrive the next day. I was surprised to see nearly 50 toilet paper rolls arrive at my house a couple of weeks ago, after not paying attention during the setup process. Amazon ships large quantities of products with the Dash button, as they're designed to be bulk purchases to pass savings onto you.
I wasn't paying attention when I setup my Amazon dash button. 50 toilet rolls! pic.twitter.com/doc0WBw8Ta— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) September 20, 2016
The dash buttons have probably been the worst aspect of my Amazon experience. They're the ultimate in laziness and convenience, but both times I've used them the shipments have been delayed by days or weeks, and — shock horror — I've had to actually leave my house and visit local stores for supplies.
It was the failure of the Dash buttons that reminded me of how much I've come to rely on Amazon. I even enthusiastically purchased the Echo recently, and while it's slightly disappointing compared to the hype around it, it already does more than my Kinect ever has. I can control my heating, my lights, my music, and even my shopping list with just my voice, and it sits in my living room ready for my commands. The Amazon logo emblazoned on the front of the Echo is also a constant reminder of how my, and many others, spending habits have changed in recent years.
I live just outside of London in a busy block of apartments, and I witness just how many Amazon packages arrive here on a daily basis. I used to enjoy shopping locally, but once I got past the barrier to Amazon Prime entry, the convenience has taken over. If I want to purchase something I immediately try to find it on Amazon, and I'll only buy elsewhere if the price is significantly different or I can't get it delivered by Amazon Prime. My new behavior alarms me, and I'm certainly not alone. I was late to the Amazon Prime party, but its convenience will force me to never leave. Amazon has taken over me and my home.
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