There is no new information in this CNET portrait of the status quo at Amazon but as an general overview and starting point it is a good read:
With an estimated 47 million US accounts, Prime has become so successful that rivals Walmart and eBay started testing similar membership shipping programs. (..)
Amazon isn’t just creating software and services. It’s also building items that connect to the Internet. For example, there’s the Amazon Echo, a personal assistant in the form of a giant cylindrical speaker, and the so-called Dash buttons, which make it easy to reorder a product with a single click of the tiny devices. Expect the company to keep inventing new household devices, especially those that make ordering from its online storefront even easier. (..)
The rapid-delivery service should help Amazon become a tougher competitor against local drugstores and big-box retailers, encouraging customers to skip a store visit and spend more with Amazon. The Prime Now service, along with same- and next-day deliveries in some cities, is changing consumers’ expectations for how quickly they should receive their packages and sparking a war among retailers to offer fast, low-cost shipping.
These are all threads -Prime, connected devices, faster delivery- that we cover here as well. Connect them and you can see there Amazon might stand in a year or two. Amazon is fast moving from being (and being seen as) an online retailer to a local provider that happens to be more efficient than traditional competitors by using online resources.
Talking about delivery, here’s Wired on Amazon trucks:
At an event today in Chicago where employees packed 2,000 care packages for soldiers abroad, the company announced that it is rolling out thousands of tractor-trailers to make deliveries even more efficient.
Those trailers won’t be schlepping stuff to customers’ doorsteps, though. Instead, they’ll move all the crap you order between its warehouses and shipping centers. The company will continue working with all of its trucking partners, who will use their own trucks to haul Amazon-branded trailers.
Amazon’s delivery system is constantly getting more sophisticated.
The big question is how big the advantages (and disadvantages) of being a vertically integrated provider are going to be in this space. At least in Amazon’s core markets like the U.S. it looks quite favorable for the online retailer at the moment.