In the beginning, department stores had their own currencies and provided banking services to the community. Store employees lived in houses owned by the company and paid rent to them. They were paid in store credits, so they could purchase the goods they needed.
At some point in our society’s evolution stores and banks became separate entities, but most of the larger stores had their own financing departments. Even that drifted further apart though as Mastercard became dominant in that sector. The retail industry then started to diminish with the advent of online shopping which became much more convenient and reliable. Meanwhile, the separate bank and credit card companies flourished.
As bricks and mortar stores continued to decline, people turned even more to online shopping. Instead of just speciality items (which played a role in the death of record and electronic stores), or the children’s area (which helped destroy stores such as Toys R US), they became very convenient for purchasing household products, toiletries, and bath products. This negatively impacted the midrange and bargain stores, like Zellers and Sears.
All of this drove people to shop online even more, since traveling to a bricks and mortar store became no longer convenient, and with less selection than online stores. Which caused companies like Amazon and Walmart to grow even stronger online.
Two companies with different paths.
Amazon was originally a bookstore, kind of like Chapters or Coles. Then they created an online presence and they kept growing it. It wasn’t just another option for purchasing, it quickly became a desirable option, with sellers from all over the world selling every type of product imaginable. The majority of the products are backed by Amazon, so easy returns meant no risk to consumers.
When you reach the point that you’re ordering from Amazon on a regular basis, at some point you realize it makes sense to pay to be a Prime member. Prime members get their orders delivered usually within 1 to 2 days. Plus they get a year of online television (sort of like a cheap Netflix).
Walmart, on the other hand, has always been a general goods store, with everything from tires to clothing and healthcare, to household products and eventually to even food products. At some point though, they probably realized the threat Amazon presented to their business, and they quickly created an online presence. They are definitely still a bit behind Amazon.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
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