Fascinating! Prophetic! Frightening!
In my youth, Sears was at the very center of my parents’ shopping world. I looked forward to our bi-weekly to monthly visits to the dominant anchor store of the local shopping mall. I so looked forward to sharing some popcorn with my father as we strolled the aisles for life’s staples.
I distinctly remember when Allstate Insurance showed up… and a LOT of other things — Sears was changing, wanting to become the ONLY retailer / bank / service provider in our life. Even my devout and loyal father was given pause. Sears had started to lose its luster by forgetting who they were and actually trying to BE all things to all people. They forgot what they were really selling… I see Amazon doing the same thing! Both Sears and Amazon got their start by simply being the best at getting “things” to people FAST — things they already knew they wanted, things that they’ve already been “sold” — just giving them a convenient single source to get you the things you already know that you want. No salespeople. No fancy storefronts. No pomp and circumstance. Just the best at getting you whatever you want — “Do you know what you want? We’ve got it! You can get it here! And you don’t have to travel any further than your front door!” Sears was simply an expediter — an amazingly good one.
Think about it… Do you look for Amazon to sell you something or introduce you to new items or tech? Me niether! When I already know what I’m looking for, I go to Amazon to get it quick and cheap. Want a fidget spinner? We’ve got millions of them! Trampoline? Chess Set? Car Stereo? Ditto!(Our great-grandparents did the same thing with Sears). But, as soon as Sears started to sell “stuff” instead of just selling “single-source access and fast service”, they lost their competitive advantage, and turned into the zombie that Mr Thompson refers to. Unfortunately, Bezos is starting to read his own press clippings! He’s doomed to repeat Sears’ mistakes. Let Wal-Mart be Wal-Mart! Keep Amazon Amazon! Wakey wakey Jeff! Lest ye become Bezos de La Mancha!