A life without Amazon is possible, but difficult

Online trading A life without Amazon is possible, but difficult

Anyone who buys from the online retailer has a guilty conscience but does what he wants – at a fair price. About the phenomenon Amazon.

The stock market reflects not only economic success and power relations, but also the state of society. The five most valuable companies in the world are Apple, Amazon, Alphabet (ie Google), Microsoft and Facebook. Except for Facebook, the other four in the stock market value in each case in the area of ​​one trillion dollars. The oligarchic Five associates that without the Internet, they would not exist, and that without them, the Internet would not be what it is today. There is no event, no development, and no process in the history of humanity that has changed and influenced so much the entire world, but also the individual lives of billions of people, as the Internet has done in two decades. Even the scientific and technological revolution that began in the eighteenth century – mechanics, electricity, mass production, transportation – has dragged on for a long time.

On the one hand, one may see the net as a consequence of this slow revolution. On the other hand, the world has been in a new age for about 20 years. More and more people live, love, hate, work with and through the web; Politics, working life, travel, communication are now taking place in ever greater proportions in a completely different way than was the case in 1998. A man of the eleventh century would have made his way somewhat after some getting used to in the fifteenth century. But if someone fell through a time-fold from 1850 to 2018, he ended up in an incomprehensible, incomprehensible world.

Amazon is one of those phenomena that define the beginning of the digital age. One no longer buys localized, but does that over Klugtelefon and computer. As far as the acquired does not itself consist of data streams (films, series, music, electronic books), the delivery is still in a mix of new time and technology – poorly paid messengers bring the assembled from mostly poorly paid packaging workers stuff. Again, this will change in the foreseeable future through automated logistics and delivery systems, controlled by a sufficient proportion of intelligence, called “artificial” intelligence from a human point of view. At least the younger ones among us will probably experience machines distinguishing between their intelligence and human intelligence.


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In any case, about one-third of online commerce in Germany is already accounted for by Amazon. Possibly stationary stores and the local trading over the net will still exist side by side for quite some time. Pragmatically, however, you need less and less sales outlets in certain locations. Shops will survive where they can convey an experience – one does not speak with Alexa when shopping, but with one person; one strolls; You go through a shopping street as a social experience. This is similar to the progressive replacement of listening to music on sound carriers by streaming music. Amazon does both: it sells vinyl records and CDs, but also offers music at a ridiculous price – compared to recordings – over the internet. No wonder that Amazon has now also opened bookstores here and there, right bookstores with shelves. In a sense, an Amazon bookstore is sort of a re-enactment group for history-minded people: they put on new, old uniforms and pretend to live for a few hours like they did during the American Civil War. The re-enactor believes he is experiencing something that used to be normality, the present. Anyone entering an Amazon bookstore is a 20th-century re-enactor.

Amazons exemplify another development: when the human world was even younger and more straightforward, people first did things and then dealt with them when they made enough things and wanted other things. Production came before trade, trade was a function of production. Amazon is different, Amazon was the first trade. After the placeless business model of this trade functioned so well, Amazon found that it was possible to further promote trade through its own production. The result: there are plenty of things that Amazon now produces in-house, ranging from films to foodstuffs to textiles.

You have a bad conscience, but Sir Richard F. Burton on the reader

Incidentally, the same principle prevails in another area that Amazon cultivates, as far as Amazon maintains something beyond the money-making service concept. Almost anyone can publish a book on Amazon. You do not need any spooky agents anymore, no arrogant editors, no publishers and no bookstores – just because Amazon is all that. If the writing sells, it is fine. If not, the self-publishing author can claim that Franz Kafka had only very small editions.

No, for people who have been socialized in the 20th century, the rule of digital corporations does not sound good. And yet: Who except maybe those who see by conviction Bible-TV (even this is a digital transmitter), does not use a pocket phone, no Internet, still photographed on film, never buys at Amazon?

The latter, so much personal is allowed, I once tried. Amazon destroys bookstores, and because I think bookstores are more important than grocery stores (books are groceries), I have not ordered from Amazon for a while. But then I wanted the fourth season of a series and also the collected works of the explorer and adventurer Sir Richard F. Burton, who cost three fortunes in beautiful antiquarian editions. Amazon costs 18 350 pages of collected Burton 99 cents. You load them on the electric reading machine from Amazon and then always has them with you. So the bookstores are broken, Amazon is worth a trillion dollars, and the human has a guilty conscience, but also A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah & Meccah on the Reader.

Amazon is now also a pharmacy

Online Commerce Amazon now wants to be a pharmacy

Kathrin Werner, born in 1983, is a correspondent in New York. She already discovered her reporter enthusiasm as a student of the Hessian-Lower Saxon General and then studied law in Hamburg. She then started working for the business paper Financial Times Deutschland , which still existed at that time, first as a volunteer, later as an editor for renewable energies and maritime topics such as shipping companies and shipyards, and finally as a New York correspondent. She came to the Süddeutsche Zeitung in the early summer of 2013. In America, she handles all kinds of business topics: from 3-D printers and alligator leather to Chrysler, Amazon and Goldman Sachs.

TJ Parker comes from a family of pharmacists. Even as a teenager, he worked in his father’s pharmacy in New Hampshire – and noticed many things he did not like about the age-old industry. For example, that it is so difficult for many patients to actually take their prescribed pills regularly and to keep track of them. Parker is 32 years old, so for him a solution using technology, with the help of the internet, came close. He studied pharmacy and founded an online start-up, Pillpack. Now he sells it to Amazon.

Exact information, what plans Amazon with Pillpack, there is not yet. According to media reports, Amazon paid around one billion dollars for the 2013 founded company. Pillpack is so far only a niche provider with tens of thousands of customers compared to the millions who shop in pharmacies and drugstores with fixed stores. The start-up specializes in pre-sorted packs with a monthly supply of pills for the chronically ill. But through the young company Amazon gets important licenses for the drug trade – and access to customer data. Pillpack has a pharmacy license in all 50 states of the USA. Other corporations had to fight both for decades.

The old pharmacy and drugstore chains are still trying to avoid being too frightened, at least in public. “Yes, it’s a Memorandum of Understanding from Amazon, but the pharmacy world is much more complex than the delivery of certain pills or packages, and I firmly believe that the role of the inpatient pharmacy will remain very, very important in the future,” said Stefano Pessina , the boss of Walgreens Boots Alliance’s second largest pharmacy group, in a conference call. “I see no reason to worry.” After Amazon announced the acquisition, the stock prices of pharmacy and drugstore chains Rite Aid, Walgreens and CVS fell. Within hours, they together lost about $ 11 billion in market value. The Amazon paper, however, increased. The online retailer is now worth about $ 825 billion on the stock market.

In the US, $ 400 billion will be spent on drugs

For months now, the healthcare industry has trembled before Amazon’s entry into the business, with which it has largely undisturbed good profits generated over decades, unlike almost all other industries even almost undisturbed by the Internet. No country spends as much on health as the US. The cost per inhabitant is almost three times higher than the average of other industrialized countries – and according to a study by 2025, they are set to grow rapidly, even faster than the gross domestic product.

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The US drug trade alone is estimated to be more than $ 400 billion, accounting for nearly half of global sales. Amazon’s entry could depress prices – as is almost always the case when Amazon does something new. Seattle’s less than 24-year history has proven to be uncomfortable for competitors. After Amazon’s founding, initially as an online book mail order, the bookstore chain Borders slipped into bankruptcy. And since Amazon recently acquired the organic supermarket chain Whole Foods, traditional grocers are dreading and losing market value.

The entry into the health economy, however, should not be as easy as that in the book trade. Finally, US authorities pay much more attention to the protection of patient data and security in shipping, the industry is tightly regulated. In addition, the industry is conservative and works – at least outside the shipping sector, directly to consumers – with long-term contracts and trade relations forged over years. For hospitals, so major pharmaceutical customers, the price is less than the quality.

The Pillpack acquisition is just the first step

First, according to media reports, nothing should change in the name of Pillpack or in the licenses. Parker, the co-founder and boss, is to lead the company. Even the retailer Walmart, Amazon’s most powerful rival from the offline world, should have had interest in Pillpack, but could not prevail with the offer.

Before the acquisition of Pillpack, Amazon has already signaled to enter the industry. For example, Amazon agents have contacted one US hospital chain after another and offered it as a wholesaler. It was not about the drugs or other sensitive products, but first about syringes, latex gloves, smocks, patches and other medical supplies, which is not subject to any particularly strict regulation.

With the investment company Berkshire Hathaway of the investor Warren Buffett and the largest US bank JP Morgan Chase Amazon also wants to found a health insurance, initially only for its own employees. It aims to provide solutions to lower healthcare costs and make the interconnected system more transparent to hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, insurers and pharmaceutical companies – and cheaper. Stock prices of insurers promptly broke. The company has just announced that it has found a CEO: the famous doctor and scientist Atul Gawande. Not much is known about the plans of the health insurance. But together with the acquisition of Pillpack, she shows that Amazon is serious about entering the healthcare industry. “The health care system is complex and we are open-eyed to the challenge in terms of difficulty,” said Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. He had set out to “reduce the burden that the health industry for the economy means.”

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