Well said, thoroughly enjoyed this article. I’ve been going to CES for +10 years, as well as attending the first CES in Shanghai, and you are noticing the Chinese influence progressively taking over the Las Vegas show, even if the booths and advertising is spartan, to be blunt.
In my humble opinion we have already seen in the last year especially, Walmart make legitimate and valid moves to replicate key software and logistical modeling of Amazon, as they aggressively reach out to key Amazon Fulfillment vendors to branch onto the competing platform. Walmart.com is largely turning into 3rd party fulfillment, where the ‘cream of the crop’ of Amazon sellers are reviewed and targeted to become Walmart platform members. Although their EDI systems are incredibly antiquated, they are just a quick logistical partnership away from stealing progressive amounts of marketshare away from Amazon. And many fulfillment vendors are already noting less restrictions, less commission and logistics fees, and an overall more profitable relationship with Walmart.
Alibaba/TMall/JD.com/Taobao are aggressively expanding into Southeast Asia, which collectively is a larger eCommerce populous than America — prior to investing heavily into North American infrastructure. What I think you will see shortly (the next 3–5 years), is after investment is actualized in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc — the Chinese will turn attention to the Americas, chiefly USA and Brazil — and either partner with an existing American retailer or American/European logistical partner streamlining both cheap unbranded (ie: Tier 3) Chinese goods, with a fulfillment infrastructure that allows existing American vendors to sell Tier 1 brands in a less restrictive framework. Pairing unbeatable pricing with 2–3 day shipping time frames.
Amazon’s perhaps gravest concerns are two fold:
1.) Continued billions in losses in overseas markets (absolute failure in China as they exit the country in entirety (outside of ‘sourcing’ direct-to-manufacture dragon boat mentalities), pending failure in India as customs issues and domestic competition arise (government support of Flipkart), labor and union concerns in Germany (forcing fulfillment shifts to CZ/Poland (which has greater lossage issues in fulfillment centres, and lowers customer experience)), and a general malaise on French/UK portals due to currency and uncertain eCommerce futures, not to mention the sleeping Rakuten giant in Japan which has oddly been spending money acquiring portals worldwide without any notable plan to actually expand into these markets.
2.) Bezos’ incredibly risky and proven incorrect gamble to slander and manipulate the incoming Trump administration, which will most likely lead to very inconvenient nexus state tax laws — as well as potential federal anti-trust legislation that will crack down substantially on several of Amazon’s business practices. While I think it’s fair to say a lot of these movements were coming regardless, Bezos sped things up substantially with his propagandistic WashPo. rag.
These are all my highly anecdotal opinions, and written in half-jest, but I think there’s some legitimate fire beyond the smoky predictions.
Joe House for President 2020.