Last year, my colleague Adrienne LaFrance enumerated all the ways in which Facebook, as a source of news, collector of ad revenue, and time-and-productivity sinkhole, is devouring the Internet. “Facebook,” she wrote, “wants to be the portal by which people go online. And, increasingly, it is.”
Amazon, it seems, has similar aspirations, but for commerce: It wants to be the portal by which people get actual things—all things, perhaps.
In the coming weeks, the Seattle-based company will reportedly launch several lines of products, from nuts, spices, tea, coffee, baby food, and vitamins to household items under in-house, private-label brands. This long-anticipated development comes during a year in which Amazon has also expanded its restaurant delivery and same-day delivery services, built up startling delivery infrastructure, and opened a physical bookstore.
As my colleague Bourree Lam observed earlier this month, stores like Costco and Sam’s Club (unlike their slightly smaller big-box brethren) are succeeding in part because they’ve capitalized on consumer wariness about shopping for food online. The strategy behind Amazon’s latest gambit is that it co-opts some tactics—the sale of private-label items and an emphasis on non-perishable food— that have allowed supercenters and warehouse stores to withstand the rise of online shopping.