In the wake of the profound societal changes ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic, the dynamics of social behaviour have undergone a substantial transformation. The focus lies on the integral role that digital platforms have played in navigating the altered terrain of social interactions in the post-COVID era. Let’s take a closer look at Amazon to gain a deeper understanding of how these platforms are influencing human behaviour and gradually shifting our collective focus in today’s world. By delving into the intricacies of these two platforms, we can gain a more nuanced understanding of how they are shaping consumer actions, altering social dynamics, and redefining how we allocate our time and attention in today’s world.
Amazon’s Resilience and Expansion Amidst Pandemic Challenges
In The New York Times article penned by Karen Weise back in April 2021, Amazon’s incredible financial performance in the first quarter of that year took center stage. The driving force behind this surge? None other than the pandemic-triggered spike in online shopping, media streaming, and cloud computing.
Weise’s piece doesn’t stop there. It brings Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos into the spotlight, who proudly highlights the accomplishments of Prime Video and AWS, the web services division. But what’s more intriguing is Amazon’s venture into fresh territories. This retail giant had its fingers in various pies, including online healthcare, automated grocery stores, and, believe it or not, a hair salon in London.
Remarkably, the article also hints at Amazon’s confidence in sustaining this growth into the next quarter, despite some loosening of Covid-19 restrictions. It underscores not only Amazon’s dominance in the tech landscape but also its knack for seizing opportunities presented by changing consumer behaviors during the pandemic.
“However, if there is one thing the COVID-19 outbreak has shown us, it is that markets are dynamic (Jaworski, Kohli, & Sahay, 2000) and can move rapidly. Furthermore, a market is not just a firm; it is a network of actors (i.e., firms, customers, public organizations) acting in accordance with a set of norms. These systems are sometimes referred to as dynamic ecosystems that exist to generate value (Vargo & Lusch, 2011). The COVID-19 outbreak poses a unique opportunity to study how markets are created and how they disappear within a very limited time span” (Donthu & Gustaffson, 2020).
The excerpt from the journal by Donthu and Gustaffson above underscores the critical importance of strategic planning in navigating the future of businesses within a disruptive economy. While the pandemic indeed led to the closure of numerous enterprises, it also illuminated a promising path for aspiring entrepreneurs. The flexibility and diversification strategies employed by industry giants like Amazon serve as inspiring examples for shaping the business landscape of the future.
Elevating Customer Experience: Amazon’s Commitment to Safety and Convenience
According to Veybitha, Alfansi, Salim and Darta, 2021, numerous stress-inducing circumstances stem from external factors over which individuals have no influence, leading to a perception that they lack control over their surroundings and the outcomes of their endeavours.
Just picture this scenario: managing to keep your pantry stocked for the week, ensuring a constant supply of toiletries, and maintaining a clean living space—all while juggling university coursework can already be a formidable challenge. Now, rewind this situation to the pandemic era, and it becomes even more daunting. In those times, you had to don a suffocating mask to protect yourself and others, and continuously sanitize along the way to and from the supermarket. It was incredibly stressful for countless individuals, and that’s precisely why so many people find it difficult to stay on top of their lives. No one wished for the arrival of COVID-19; it was beyond our control, yet it cast a heavy burden on society as a whole.
Therefore, one can explore the primary advantages that the Amazon platform has to offer in reducing stress within society during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on safety and convenience.
- Minimal Physical Contact: Amazon’s online platform inherently reduced the need for in-person shopping, a crucial safety measure during the pandemic’s heightened transmission risk.
- Contactless Deliveries: Amazon swiftly adopted contactless delivery options, ensuring packages were left at customers’ doorsteps, eliminating direct contact between delivery personnel and recipients.
- Enhanced Sanitation: Amazon implemented stringent hygiene and sanitisation protocols in its warehouses and delivery processes, instilling confidence in customers regarding the safety of the products they received.
The safety measures implemented by Amazon have effectively mitigated health risks associated with COVID-19. In these times, even the most vigilant individuals can find it challenging to avoid exposure to the virus, which can be a source of anxiety for many. For instance, consider a video featuring a nurse in Michigan who illustrates just how easily germs can spread within a grocery store environment.
- Round-the-Clock Accessibility: Amazon’s online marketplace remained accessible 24/7, accommodating customers’ needs even amid lockdowns and time constraints.
- Extensive Product Range: Amazon’s vast inventory dwarfed physical stores, offering a comprehensive selection of products, allowing customers to find precisely what they required.
- Price Transparency: Amazon facilitated seamless price comparison across multiple sellers, empowering customers to secure the best deals effortlessly.
- Efficient Home Deliveries: Amazon’s hallmark became doorstep deliveries, providing unmatched convenience, reducing the need for travel, and alleviating the burdens of carrying heavy packages.
- Time and Cost Savings: Online shopping on Amazon saved customers valuable time and energy that would otherwise have been spent commuting to stores and navigating crowded aisles.
- Personalized Recommendations: Amazon’s sophisticated algorithms delivered personalized product recommendations based on customers’ browsing and purchase history, simplifying the shopping experience.
Unpacking Amazon’s Influence: E-Commerce’s Downsides on Post-Pandemic Society
Beyond the advantages that the Amazon platform has offered during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial to recognise that it may not serve as the sole driving force compelling all businesses to transition online. However, it can be viewed as an optimal solution for navigating the challenges posed by the pandemic. Yet, it’s equally important to consider the potential drawbacks of societal behavioural changes in the post-pandemic era. Specifically, how has the surge in e-commerce negatively impacted society?
Navigating the Pandemic’s Economic Fallout: Workforce Adaptation and Skill Acquisition
For individuals employed by close-down businesses, the pandemic ushered in a period of significant upheaval. With their jobs at risk or already lost, many had to adapt by acquiring new skills or seeking employment in different sectors. Some faced the challenge of transitioning to remote work, while others explored entirely new career paths to remain financially stable (Asare Vitenu-Sackey & Barfi, 2021). The job market underwent considerable changes, with individuals shuffling around to secure employment opportunities that were still available in the evolving pandemic landscape (Ghosh, 2020).
After watching the McKinsey video below, readers can delve deeper into the pandemic’s transformative impact on our future and the evolving job market’s demand. Additionally, they can explore how the e-commerce sector coped with the skyrocketing demand that emerged during the pandemic.
Struggles of Amazon Third-Party Sellers Amid Growing Demand
One of the notable negative impacts is the increased complexity and burden of tax compliance on online businesses. According to Mathradas, the evolving sales tax regulations, triggered by the South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. ruling, have placed substantial compliance obligations on online sellers. With 44 states and the District of Columbia adopting laws considering customers’ location for compliance, businesses must navigate a web of varying tax requirements (Mathradas, 2020).
Additionally, the article further explored that as online sales grow, there is a risk of surpassing transaction thresholds, which could lead to new tax obligations. This risk is particularly challenging for businesses doing tax compliance manually. The task becomes burdensome and nearly impossible to manage, especially with the rapid growth of e-commerce sales.
Furthermore, for businesses engaged in international sales, the complexities multiply. Customs duties and tariffs add another layer of intricacy, and the failure to include these costs in cross-border transactions can result in unhappy customers and financial losses due to returned items (Mathradas, 2020).
Indeed, the pandemic sparked a profound e-commerce transformation that has left an enduring impact on society. Amid the crisis, e-commerce platforms like Amazon became lifelines, offering safety and convenience when traditional shopping avenues faltered. This paradigm shift not only propelled online retail to unprecedented heights but also reshaped consumer preferences and behaviors.
As we navigate the post-pandemic landscape, e-commerce retains its pivotal role, influencing the way we shop with its enduring convenience and accessibility. It has spurred businesses to adapt and innovate, cementing a lasting evolution in the relationship between technology, commerce, and society. E-commerce now stands as a cornerstone of the new normal.
However, it’s imperative to acknowledge the challenges. Individuals are compelled to adapt to the online environment, acquiring new skills for evolving job opportunities, demanding more flexibility. Third-party sellers grapple with tax implications as demand soars. In this dynamic landscape, a balance must be struck between the benefits and complexities that e-commerce brings to our evolving society.
Asare Vitenu-Sackey, P., & Barfi, R. (2021). The impact of covid-19 pandemic on the global economy: Emphasis on poverty alleviation and economic growth. The Economics and Finance Letters, 8(1), 32–43. https://doi.org/10.18488/journal.29.2021.81.32.43
Donthu, N., & Gustaffson, A. (2020, June 9). Effects of COVID-19 on business and research. Journal of Business Research. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0148296320303830#s0015
Ghosh, I. (2020). The road to recovery: Which Economies are reopening? Visual Capitalist. Retrieved from: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/the-road-to-recovery-which-economies-are-reopening-covid-19/.
Mathradas, A. (2020, May 15). The double-sided impact of covid-19 on e-commerce. Total Retail. Retrieved from: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/the-double-sided-impact-of-covid-19-on-e-commerce/
Veybitha, Y., Alfansi, L., Salim, M., & Darta, E. (2021). The Impact of Stress During the Covid 19 Pandemic on Online Buying Behavior: A Meta-Analysis Study. The International Journal of Social Sciences World (TIJOSSW), 3(2), 263–273. Retrieved from: http://www.growingscholar.org/journal/index.php/TIJOSSW/article/view/165
Weise, K. (2021, April 29). Amazon’s profit soars 220 percent as pandemic drives shopping online. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/29/technology/amazons-profits-triple.html