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View Diary: No one wants to drive out to Walmart stores anymore (325 comments)

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  •  Everyone has always tried to guess (39+ / 0-)

    who would be the "Wal-Mart Killer".

    I have long said, and still believe, it is and will be AMAZON.

    Once they go all-in on Food and Household items delivered to your door, Wal-Mart will start feeling some serious pain.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 09:59:25 AM PST

    •  amazon and drugstore.com (12+ / 0-)

      I order from there. They'll do prescriptions too, the FSA store is easy to manage and you don't need to worry about receipts. You can save your shopping list, and they have just about everything.

      They're also as cheap as anywhere else, and cheaper than a lot of other places.

      If you need something right now (like a prescription filled) that's a different story. But since drugstore.com is part of Walgreens, you probably have a brick and mortar store not far away.

      That's where things are moving. Smaller local stores (even if they're chains) that carry a selection of things, and are affiliated with a big online chain where you can get everything. And your account can be synchronized between the real and online stores.

      It really doesn't work that well with groceries, especially if you're not in a city or densely populated area, where the physical store is right around the corner.

      •  groceries (9+ / 0-)
        That's where things are moving. Smaller local stores (even if they're chains) that carry a selection of things, and are affiliated with a big online chain where you can get everything. And your account can be synchronized between the real and online stores.

        It really doesn't work that well with groceries, especially if you're not in a city or densely populated area, where the physical store is right around the corner.

        Actually, our local Kroger operation (King Soopers) has a pretty good online-driven grocery delivery operation. Elderly and disabled folks throughout Colorado love it. It's forced Safeway to adopt delivery service in the Denver Metro, and it's kicking Walmart's you-know-what because they can't afford to follow suit.

        "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

        by thanatokephaloides on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 11:39:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Amazon (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Swig Mcjigger, akze29, Farugia

        I've just been tipped off to this article, which I'm about to read:

        http://www.salon.com/...

        Not sure what it ultimately holds, but it sure doesn't sound good.

        God used to be my co-pilot, but then we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat him.

        by Eagles92 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 01:03:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  re-thinking Amazon (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Gary Owen, PhilW

          there is a scathing article about Amazon and Jeff Bezos in the latest New Yorker.  I try to be a good citizen consumer and always only used Amazon for books.  The corporate model undercuts profits for publishing houses in much the same way Wal-Mart undercut profits to Levi's selling cheap jeans.  I'm going to go back to the book stores, use more library books and not sit on my couch ordering books for my Kindel.

          Pope Francis, it is said to have said, "Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary".

          by Miss Fanny on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 03:53:56 AM PST

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        •  I try to avoid Amazon, but there are times (0+ / 0-)

          when their added layer of cushion between buyer and vendor is very helpful - like when a vendor failed to ship a lift-chair for my elderly father, but also refused to cancel the order and release my funds. So if I'm making a big-dollar purchase and it's not something I can pick up myself, I'm likely to use Amazon.

      •  Reminds me of 7-Eleven in Taiwan. (0+ / 0-)

        It's a convenient store, with emphasis on CONVENIENT.

        First off, you can buy snack and drinks, like many convenient stores.

        Some of the bigger ones have essentially a sort of cafeteria food like area for you to pickup dinner.

        All 7-11 also functions as a post-office and allow people to buy stamps, mail package, pay utility bill, pay traffic fines, etc.

        Have its own cell-phone service.

        And if it's not in store, you can order online and have it delivered to the store for you to pick it up.

    •  amazon has a pretty extensive range (8+ / 0-)

      of household and food products they deliver already

      when will folks realize that free shipping costs less than driving to Walmart?

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      DEMAND CREATES JOBS!!!
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights to talk about grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 10:25:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Which is not a good thing (17+ / 0-)

      Amazon is just as bad if not worse than Wal-Mart when it comes to the way they treat their employees.

      Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

      by moviemeister76 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 11:16:28 AM PST

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      •  Story in Salon lays it bare... (18+ / 0-)

        Salon link here.

        Short excerpt:

        Amazon’s system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive I have ever come across and combines state-of-the-art surveillance technology with the system of “functional foreman,” introduced by Taylor in the workshops of the Pennsylvania machine-tool industry in the 1890s. In a fine piece of investigative reporting for the London Financial Times, economics correspondent Sarah O’Connor describes how, at Amazon’s center at Rugeley, England, Amazon tags its employees with personal sat-nav (satellite navigation) computers that tell them the route they must travel to shelve consignments of goods, but also set target times for their warehouse journeys and then measure whether targets are met.

        All this information is available to management in real time, and if an employee is behind schedule she will receive a text message pointing this out and telling her to reach her targets or suffer the consequences. At Amazon’s depot in Allentown, Pennsylvania (of which more later), Kate Salasky worked shifts of up to eleven hours a day, mostly spent walking the length and breadth of the warehouse. In March 2011 she received a warning message from her manager, saying that she had been found unproductive during several minutes of her shift, and she was eventually fired. This employee tagging is now in operation at Amazon centers worldwide.

        •  I don't shop Amazon.com (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          EJP in Maine, merrylib

          They are just as bad as Wal Mart and their whining about having to collect and remit online sales tax pissed me off.

          •  I agree. I'm in WA State, Amazon's headquarters. (0+ / 0-)

            We've heard all the negatives about Amazon.  

            I check reviews of items I may want to buy from other retail stores or online direct from the vendor.  I've purchased two things from them over the years.

            However, my relatives love to get Amazon gift cards!

        •  Certainly... (0+ / 0-)

          ...employes should be expected to do their job and it's hard to figure out how to determine how well employees are doing that without some form of monitoring - formal or informal. Objective monitoring and evaluation for jobs such as this which require no creativity, insight, or special training or education are generally going to be superior to subjective views of supervisors who have biases and "bad days" and personality clashes unrelated to the job at hand. The described job is one of moving the correct product from point A to point B efficiently as directed by plans generated by a computer - either you do that, or you don't.

          Amazon certainly eventually wants to replace most of these jobs with automation - just as most minimum or low wage jobs at fixed locations will be replaced over time with automation in all industries surprisingly (to some) soon - decades, not centuries.

          Really, it's ludicrous in 2014 to have humans running around a big warehouse picking most items that Amazon handles. About the only humans in the main warehousing area should be mechanics fixing/removing broken robots that the "retrieval robot" couldn't retrieve for some reason.

          However, as long as humans are cheaper than "robots" and computers, the absurdity will continue. Automation is only getting cheaper and more efficient/flexible so that curve is inescapable. The other curve that matters a lot is total cost of labor - if that goes up (more benefits, wages, etc), the two curves will intersect sooner than otherwise.

          •  Read the link. Surveillance is tip of the iceberg. (3+ / 0-)

            nt

            •  I do agree... (0+ / 0-)

              ...that Amazon is a horrible place to work (by the way, it's horrible for many higher skill professionals to work as well -- it's not just warehouse workers).

              I believe some of the things in the article (previously reported elsewhere as well) are inappropriate.

              For example, employees should clock in BEFORE standing in line for security screening after a break and AFTER security screening is complete at the start of a break. Time spent standing in line waiting for screening is company not personal time.

              As well, the temperatures in warehouses should not be allowed to rise to the point where healthy people are collapsing and obviously Amazon has overstepped here. However, it is likely reasonable for Amazon to only hire people who are able to tolerate somewhat elevated heat levels if the cost of conditioning the space is high.

              I can't judge the "ill fitting boots" problem in the UK as I don't understand why Amazon is buying their employees boots and recognize that any new shoe, used extensively, is going to initially create some pressure points and some unhappy wearers.

              On the other hand...

              I've got no problem with quotas, and when discovering a better way to work, expecting workers to follow those better ways and increasing quotas. If they are pushing all workers beyond their capabilities Amazon will spend more money hiring/training equally unproductive workers to replace the ones they fired. Amazon is not stupid -- they would not waste money with the firing/hiring/training cycle if there were not people able to do the work.

              Consider if one was running a ditch digging service in the old days (before such unskilled jobs were mostly replaced by just a few skilled workers operating capital intensive machines - trackhoes, backhoes etc). If the top 1/3 of your workers could excavate X cubic feet of dirt a day and the bottom 1/3 could only excavate X/2 cubic feet of dirt a day, wouldn't you try to get the slower workers to increase their productivity and, if they couldn't, replace them with a new crop of ditch diggers of which you would expect 1/3 to do much better, 1/3 to do a little better, and 1/3 to do about the same as the workers they replaced (of course, the last group would, if unable to adapt, be replaced). Yes, obviously, older/weaker workers are likely to be replaced -- but that's true of NFL linebackers also and I rarely hear complaints about that. It's a physical job, some people are more physically capable than others -- just as success as a structural engineer benefits from intellectual strengths and I don't hear many complaints that we should have buildings designed by structural engineers who are not competent (in fact, at least in some areas, the government insures this won't happen by licensing structural engineers and requires that they sign off on plans - the government does the dirty work in that case by excluding the less competent).

              I've also got no problem with "no talking on the line" (assuming, of course, that work talk is not required to do one's job). That's for breaks, lunch, before/after work.

              Obviously, Amazon is mostly using workers in the warehouses as robots. They will continue to replace the humans with automation over time and the workers won't have to tolerate the conditions they don't like (unfortunately, some will almost certainly become chronically unemployed). There's a reason that Amazon bought Kiva Systems a couple of years ago and that Foxconn is reportedly working with Google on industrial robotics and is expected to build hundreds of thousands of robots to replace workers on their assembly lines in the near future.

              •  Spoken like a true friend of the people! (0+ / 0-)

                You must have mad progressive credentials, to speak in such glowing terms of the ability of companies to treat employees like robots, and approve so highly of replacing basic laborers with automation when their bodies are too decrepit to function any longer.

                We should totally push to have these views added to the Democratic platform. I'm sure workers everywhere will be thankful.

        •  The NSAification (0+ / 0-)

          of America's serfs and serfs everywhere. I am a nurse and it is being done to us.

      •  Cause and effect (6+ / 0-)

        People everywhere are sick of the out-dated, labor-intensive, geographically disparate, limited-selection, gimmicky retail model laden with layer upon layer of profit margins in vertically aligned specialty stores or failing attempts at horizontally cross-sectioned "department stores".

        If I never step foot in another shopping mall, over-priced boutique or local shop hanging out a shingle to hawk crap it will be too soon.  I am far, far, far from alone.  There is not a single thing I buy today that I don't either already get online (not necessarily from Amazon, just online) or actively think about my options for doing so.

        The internet is the only entity that can stock everything for everyone everywhere.

        Its what people want, everywhere in the world and Amazon has figured out how to provide it.  They will make TRILLIONS at this.  They are one of the biggest market disrupting innovators in the last 20 years.

        When Tesla does this with car dealerships we all applaud and cheer it on (Screw you Texas!)  If there was someone out there doing it to cable companies we'd fall all over ourselves praising it.  Same with recording labels, ISPs, utility companies and any other industry we think needs a swift kick below its bottom line.

        But when it is something as monumentally inefficient as brick-and-mortar retail, then its "OH NOEZ!  The Momz-n-Popz!!1!"    

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 11:40:27 AM PST

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        •  I don't disagree (8+ / 0-)

          I hate shopping in stores. I just think we should be mindful that online retailers aren't any different than brick and mortar stores in how the employees are treated. And in some ways, they are worse, because they are able to operate out of the public eye since customers don't actually go into any store to see the employees.

          Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

          by moviemeister76 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 11:42:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Agree 100% Especially as ppl young & old move back (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Robert

          to dense cities where cars are not needed as much or even a nuisance to own at all. I live in Brooklyn without a car, and I buy things on Amazon that I never would have dreamed of ordering online when I lived at home in suburban NJ. Stuff like printer paper and ink, a stapler, coffee K-Cups, etc etc. I have a Prime account and would gladly pay more for it if Amazon decides to raise the membership price.

          I hope the shipping companies will staff up to accommodate this onslaught of online purchases. I know UPS ran into some major problems last Christmas.

          •  Xmas is always tough (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mr Robert, mattc129

            UPS was my first real IT job.  They do not base your tenure on your start date... it is measured by how many Christmas' you've been through.

            I didn't work in the actual package centers on a day to day basis, but I was near one and I would go down after I got off in the General Office and help out... it was MADNESS.

            But yea.. the term "Amazon Elves" is already out there for the thousands of people Amazon hires temporarily in December to help handle the deluge.

            Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

            by Wisper on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 01:22:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  and where will people work? (3+ / 0-)

          If we all shop online all the time, what will happen to local brick & mortar businesses who actually pay taxes to the community & bring jobs to the area? I'm with you on big box stores and gimmicky retailers with overpriced goods, and I also hate shopping, especially for clothes, BUT, there is another side of the coin. Just to start, I wouldn't want to buy all my clothes & shoes online, there's no way to try them on first. More importantly, where will people work? Those are jobs that can't be exported to China and other countries with lower wages. Will there just be a bunch of vacant real estate with empty spaces? We own a local computer business which has 7 good paying jobs, with full benefits. Maybe the future is online shopping for everything, but I hope not.

          "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

          by solesse413 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 01:19:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  A lot of that real estate (4+ / 0-)

            could be redeveloped as denser urban residential.

            I get the job thing but its just not worth it, IMHO.  Not to prop up an asphyxiating business model.  ..and its not like these are GREAT jobs.  Hawking cell phones at the Best Buy or stocking shoes at Sears isn't exactly an ideal career.

            It will be governed by preference.  If people are willing to pay more to go to brick and mortar store to look and feel actual merchandise they should be prepared to pay a premium for the privilege.

            I think the "personal touch" is overrated... look at travel agents.  If people really cared about having someone handle all the details for them, they'd pay for it, but what do we see?  Travel Agents are an extinct species.  ...I can't wait to see an online company solve the Real Estate MLS access issue and put Real Estate agents out of business.

            Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

            by Wisper on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 01:27:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  that's funny you said that. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mr Robert, Nebraskablue

              had to laugh, I am a travel agent and just got back into the business after 10 years out of it. People do pay for it, you'd be surprised. :)

              "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

              by solesse413 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 01:35:42 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No doubt there are some (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                solesse413, Sparhawk, Bronx59

                and people fully recognize it now as more of a concierge service.  They see it as a value and pay accordingly.  If all they cared about was price, they'd go to Travelocity or Kayak or something.

                Im sure there will be a concierge market for real estate, but I tell ya... paying 6% graft off the top of selling the largest asset most people will ever own .. that really burns.

                Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

                by Wisper on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 01:45:36 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Okay, Wiper, but please address the jobs loss part (0+ / 0-)

              of your equation.

              Where will people work, as your projection plays out? At what types of jobs? Will they have to migrate to other parts of their state or country to find jobs in the shipping centers?

      •  not to mention we need B&M stores. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dick Woodcock

        we need actual brick and mortar stores rather than just roads filled with delivery trucks. Online shopping is great, but it's not for everything and I wouldn't want it to be.

        Support local businesses!

        "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

        by solesse413 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 01:12:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I figured it would be greed that bought them down. (4+ / 0-)

      Like any pyramid scheme, greed is a short term business model. Hope those crazy Walton kids might have to consider part time jobs soon. And Alice Walton might have to stop her repeated drunk driving antics. Once the Walton name gets enough mud on it, old Alice won't be able to talk or buy her way out of jail again.

      "I think the Republican Party is not really a party. It doesn’t stand for anything except reelecting itself. It’s a coalition of gangs …"-David Stockman

      by GrannyOPhilly on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 11:23:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We were talking the other day about the sorry (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, Bronx59

      saga of the fall of once mighty retail giant, Sears.  With better management, they could have been Amazon.  They had the original business model, but were not smart enough to seize the internet opportunity.

      “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

      by ahumbleopinion on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 11:45:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        annan, Mr Robert, Sparhawk, Bronx59

        The catalog company was definitely an early precursor to the Amazon model.

        It is quite a spectacle to watch those out-moded retail entity's utterly crumble.  Sears, JC Penny's, Marshall Fields, etc..

        The children of my generation will have the same vague not-quite-understanding reaction to the term "Department Store" as my generation had to "Drug Store".

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 11:55:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Amazon's Business Plan (0+ / 0-)

      More low wage, no benefits, temp sweatshop jobs:

      http://www.motherjones.com/...

      For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

      by Grey Fedora on Tue Mar 04, 2014 at 06:07:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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