- Amazon Prime Now, the e-tailing giant's one-hour delivery service, has landed in Paris, and the City of Light's mayor isn't happy about its potential to hurt local merchants' business prospects—or the lack of notice Amazon gave local authorities about the launch.
- A city official speaking with FranceInfo referred to Prime Now as "unfair competition" because it doesn't face the same taxes or regulatory controls as other businesses. The city is appealing to local lawmakers to take action on the behalf of local merchants.
- Prime Now offers Parisians delivery of fresh and frozen food at a rate of €5.90 for one-hour delivery, or free two-hour delivery on orders of €20 or more.
The "destroyer of bookshops" is at it again, and the French aren't happy about it. That's the moniker the French culture minister slapped on Amazon a few years ago, when the French government moved to stop Amazon from providing free shipping on discounted books (only to watch the online behemoth start charging €0.01 for shipping to skirt the legislation.)
In France, throughout Europe, and elsewhere (like India), local authorities have tried to make it tougher for Amazon to rise to dominance in those markets the way it did in the U.S. These efforts at blocking Amazon are made in the name of economic diversity, but they often look more like they are being made out of a fear of change.
Amazon over the years has disrupted commerce in too many market segments to count, with technology as just one of the ingredients in its recipe for disruption. Often, its moves have just as much to do with innovative logistics, fulfillment and shipping practices.
In the U.S., the disruptive behavior probably quickened the demise of certain kinds of independent businesses, as well as certain large retailers, but it also helped usher in a new era of e-commerce that turned out to be fairly inclusive, provided you were willing to take a hint and change with the times.
Maybe elsewhere, people are still clinging to a more quaint and supposedly civilized way of doing business, or maybe it's just the government officials that feel that way. And maybe those officials are winning for now, as Amazon's planned acquisition of Colis Prive, a French shipping company in which it owns a 25% stake, reportedly has fallen apart over talks with French regulators.
Ultimately, change happens in commerce because customers buy into it. For now in France, they have a choice, and they can vote with their clicks, or lack thereof, if they are more interested in protecting older ways of obtaining products and services than they are in taking advantage of innovations that have redefined other markets.