Welcome to The Backroom, a window into what goes on behind the scenes as the Retail Dive team covers the stories and trends reshaping retail. You can check out all our podcast episodes (past and present) here and listen on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio and Spotify.
Amazon may not have invented e-commerce, but it certainly has defined it over the last quarter century. Retailers of all stripes have been scrambling for years to meet customer expectations set by the e-commerce giant, centered mostly around convenience, especially speedy and free delivery, at least for its Prime members.
But as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos prepares to hand over the CEO reins to his AWS cloud services chief, Andy Jassy, the fear and loathing around the e-commerce giant may be subsiding somewhat. It's not that Amazon isn't still notching massive sales (it is). But the pandemic has demonstrated to customers that e-commerce has its limits, and for many has been a reminder that it can come at a price, environmentally, financially and socially.
Moreover, many retailers, while still working hard to speed up their supply chains and offer customers various way to shop with them, are realizing their own strengths, including their stores. That's seen vividly at Walmart, which, despite the departure of Walmart e-commerce chief Marc Lore (previously an employee as well as a nemesis of Amazon), is doubling down on digital. Increasingly retailers seem to recognize that Amazon need not set all the terms, and convenience is just one way to earn loyalty.