There are two ways startups can take a hit at Amazon, the reigning leader of American online shopping. The first is to begin a frontal attack; gather millions of dollars via investors, but a complex delivery structure and warehouses, strike up deals with thousands of merchant companies and through sheer brute force, attempt to compete with the behemoth organization of Jeff Bezos on the very basis that have made it almost peerless; customer friendliness, speed, selection and price. The second way is to do something from the left field. While ceding some benefits to Amazon like admitting that it may never compete with it in terms of price, a startup can marshal new technologies cleverly for attacking Bezos machine on a more favorable ground.
In the past couple of months, two retail veterans have been working on firms that explore different avenues of breaking into online commerce. Ron Johnson, an individual who partnered with Steve Jobs for creating the lucrative physical stores of Apple Inc., has been working on something to come at Amazon from the left field; an online store named Enjoy. Buying tech products from this store will mean they are hand-delivered by an expert without any additional cost who will also stay to help people in setting it up and learning to use their new purchases.
Mr. Johnson said that this service is his take on the smartphone-era, considering his background at Apple. He is attempting to create an Apple store in offices and homes. Then there is also the e-commerce veteran, Marc Lore, who sold his company Quidsi, to Amazon in 2010 for $550 million. Jet.com is the new service introduced by Mr. Lore and it is a frontal assault on the online shopping king. Before even opening a shop, Mr. Lore managed to raise a staggering $200 million for creating a nationwide e-commerce giant to compete with Amazon on service, selection and price in particular.
His promise is quite simple, but can be momentous if the company keeps it; to offer the most-lowest prices on almost everything from oatmeal to paper towels to tennis rackets, guaranteed. The companies of these retail veterans are completely different and they face long odds, like all startups, in reaching a large number of customers. But, there is no denying that they do represent a transformative way of online shopping. Their effort indicates that online commerce is a great area of opportunity and innovation and that Amazon doesn’t have the whole thing locked up, despite the fact that it comes off as indomitable and big.
Mr. Johnson said that e-commerce is all about convenience and logistics because you order today and you can it the next day. He said that this model would remain consistent in online shopping, but a new way of shopping has been introduced through some smartphone-powered local delivery networks, which he termed ‘personal commerce’. It was in early 2014 that he started thinking of the idea that formed Enjoy. Several Apple employees have been recruited by the new startup.