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Amazon is fundamentally changing the way consumers and industry professionals think about retail and supply chain. And, if you’re reading this then you probably already realize that when it comes to supply chain and commerce – change is the only constant now. The industry is moving harder and faster to reach escalating customer demands fueled by the eCommerce giant and on demand technologies.

So, how did we get here and how do we move forward?

Supply chain’s digital age was started by advancements in technology and the generation that now occupies the largest consumer spending block: millennials. The consumer buyer’s cycle has become a blip and on demand services and mobile means businesses have a captive audience of shoppers all the time, everywhere and they want everything now.

If it seems like your news and social feeds are saturated by the eCommerce leader and their every next move – that’s because they are. But by monitoring Amazon’s progress, retailers, manufacturers and logistics providers across the chain can see what’s next in digital and how to elevate their strategies.

To make it convenient for you, here are the 3 latest Amazon moves you can’t miss and how you can respond:

1. Prime members now get same-day and one-day deliveries in select areas.

Think Uber, but for Amazon. Amazon has been building a national presence of distribution centers, backed by full-time drivers and the gig economy. Amazon Flex drivers make $18-25 hourly with the autonomy of being their own bosses. If a driver is 21 or over and has a mid-sized sedan or truck and current driver’s license they are directed to the app and ready to go. These drivers give Amazon edge for last-mile deliveries to keep one-day and same-day deliveries on schedule.

While consumers are all in for quick deliveries, one tweeted, “Please stop,” linking an article on union’s raising concerns for warehouse workers. “Humanity doesn’t need this.” Speaking of humanity, last year Business Insider released a disturbing report on Amazon’s working conditions from the company’s drivers’ first-hand, revealing the “true cost of free shipping”.

While consumers are all in for quick deliveries, one tweeted, “Please stop,” linking an article on union’s raising concerns for warehouse workers. “Humanity doesn’t need this.” Speaking of humanity, last year Business Insider released a disturbing report on Amazon’s working conditions from the company’s drivers’ first-hand, revealing the “true cost of free shipping”.

How can you compete? While our on demand economy mandates the right technologies, retailers and their partners across the supply chain need to think bigger than that. Some retailers are already offering in-store and curb-side pickup; why not add same-day deliveries to that list? While more retailers are already offering delivery, none are amassing the gig economy drivers the way Amazon is. Why not?

Isn’t it time for retailers to take the same approach in building out an on demand fleet of flexible drivers? If your business isn’t talking about having a Chief on Demand Officer (CODO), you probably should—soon. There is no reason retail chains and logistics companies can’t build out a network of on demand drivers like Amazon has for local and last-mile, same and next-day deliveries. Or, look for ways to tap into partnerships with Lyft and Uber, companies known for their entrepreneurialism, growing partnerships and endless innovation.

And why not be competitive with Amazon when it comes to getting truckers and warehouse workers and tap into social sentiment that’s reached the upper echelons of American democracy? There is a shortage of truckers and warehouse labor for retailers, 3PLS and logistics companies to hire – push the benefits of working for your business.

Focus on the human element and the working conditions that align with your company’s values and their unions’. Partner with unions in getting your message out – Amazon isn’t just competing for shoppers they’re also competing for the workforce that make their service levels possible.

And don’t stop there. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) millennials want to shop from socially conscious brands that align with their values. In fact, the federation shared that around 60% of consumers would ditch their favorite brands if they realized the business’s values don’t align with their own. Make sure your brand is promoting in your marketing, on your website, social media and in the media how you value your employee experience as much as your customer experience – it matters.

2. Some retailers are now taking Amazon returns.

In fact, Kohl’s is now accepting and shipping returns for shoppers for free. The move will bring the national retail chain more foot traffic and empower them to find opportunities to help shoppers find similar items right inside of their stores. While an interesting concept, it’s a double-edged sword.

How can you compete? Retailers can be focusing on making returns easier for their eCommerce purchases by ensuring all returns can be accepted right in the store. Retailers should be pushing this message out to the masses – if you don’t love it, bring it to your nearest location and exchange it for something you do or get your money back.

Sound basic, maybe a little old school? Exactly. That’s because it is. While technology and convenience have been reshaping the industry landscape across the supply chain, there are some mainstays inherent to marketing that haven’t changed – creating a positive, personal customer experience. And sometimes driving to the closest store to exchange that jacket you need for tomorrow’s interview is a better option than free shipping back to Amazon, right? Exactly.

3. Resellers are selling potentially defective Amazon returns.

Forbes recently shared on this phenomenon. Amazon sells some of this inventory to liquidation buyers by the pallet or truckload. Amazon offers free returns on these products marked as “defective,” so oftentimes consumers mark products as defective that are in working condition. The result? Resellers like Connelly list these former undesirables with sometimes zero refurbishing in “used” condition.

How can you compete? How are you repurposing or reselling returned items? Reselling may not always be the answer, but there is an option that Amazon doesn’t rely on frequently, evidenced by articles like the Rolling Stone’s titled: Jeff Bezos, Amazon: Why ‘Charity’ Is Wrong Solution.

There has been a lot of dialogue buzzing online about the lack of philanthropy from the eCommerce leader. Vox reported last fall that “scrutiny is not going to end for the world’s wealthiest person, who on Thursday announced he would dedicate at least $2 billion to philanthropic projects. It’s a long time coming for the Amazon CEO, who had yet to spend any real amount of his $163 billion in assets on charity, despite external pressure.”

There has been a lot of dialogue buzzing online about the lack of philanthropy from the eCommerce leader. Vox reported last fall that “scrutiny is not going to end for the world’s wealthiest person, who on Thursday announced he would dedicate at least $2 billion to philanthropic projects. It’s a long time coming for the Amazon CEO, who had yet to spend any real amount of his $163 billion in assets on charity, despite external pressure.”

Why not repurpose returns that can’t be marked down and are in working condition to give back to shelters and charities across the community? You’ll keep your margins tighter with tax deductions, but also you’ll also be giving back and keeping an active dialogue going around something that Amazon seems to miss – values and community.

About The Author:

Naomi Garnice has 13 years of experience in telling brand stories and increasing online lead gen, and exposure and five years of experience managing and mentoring up-and-comers. When she is not at work or at a dog park, Naomi volunteers on the board for the Phoenix American Marketing Association and writes about professional development. Naomi’s articles have appeared on Mashable and Forbes.com and have been plugged by the New York Times online.

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