Am I Next? Amazon Mass Layoffs

In what is being spun as a “rare move,” Amazon is confirming published reports of mass layoffs – approximately 500 employees working mostly in the consumer-retail division including several hundred employees at its Seattle, Washington headquarters.

Industry pundits believe that this is little more than a corporate realignment to address past performance issues, overstaffing, and additional costs related to Amazon’s rapid growth. Additional measures include a hiring freeze in some areas and lateral employee shifts within the organization. Something to be expected after eight years of accelerated growth that saw the headcount at headquarters grow from 5,000 employees in 2010 to over 40,000 currently. Due to Amazon’s amazing stock price, acquisitions appear to be happening at a faster pace and include traditional bricks-and-mortar companies like Whole Foods. It would not surprise anyone if Amazon went big-box to compete directly with Walmart and Costco. 

Putting these layoffs in perspective, they are less onerous than those of Microsoft or IBM. 

Amazon continues to put pressure on cities to outdo their tax and other incentives to capture the location of Amazon’s second North American headquarters (HQ2) which will mean up to 50,000 jobs. According to Amazon, the following cities are under consideration: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County (Maryland), Nashville, Newark, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Toronto, and Washington, D.C.. According to an industry consensus, the most likely city will be one of the following: Atlanta, Raleigh, Washington D.C., Boston, or Austin.

Considerations beyond taxes, personnel availability, and cost of living, may include additional political factors such as Bezos owning the Washington Post and wanting to increase his influence in political circles. Perhaps as a consolidated purchasing solution for the government and its massive bureaucracy.

Are you asking yourself, Am I Next?


Am I Next? Counterfeit Competition. Job Loss

It is one thing to hear President Trump rant and rave about China’s theft of intellectual property or the trade imbalance between our two countries, but is it quite something else when one of the largest sales platforms on the planet, Amazon, is being gamed by Chinese counterfeiters who pop in-and-out of business at the drop of a name change. Not only is the consumer hurt by shoddy, and potentially unsafe goods, but small businesses that derive a significant portion of their revenue from online sales through Amazon are devastated. 

Unfortunately, since many products are made in Chinese plants, it is a simple matter to rebrand them and offer the very same item or simply run an extra off-the-books shift of the real product to be sold a deeply-discounted prices. Either way, American businesses are hurt and without legal redress if they want to seek what will most surely be a pyrrhic victory in the courts – ever mindful that a change in name and the miscreant company is right back at it the next day. 

Of course, Amazon is incapable of vetting all third-party vendors and will shut down their platform access (at least under the offending name) when a consumer makes a legitimate complaint. After all, it is the consumers and not the vendors who are responsible for Amazon’s revenue and growth. That Amazon will refund your money and even provide a free return shipping tag is a given. 

Caveat Emptor, “let the buyer beware,” should be the tagline below every FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) marking. 

Bottom line: It pays to keep an eye on the large marketing platforms like Amazon and Alibaba to see if your company’s particular product or category is being knocked off – because job losses can follow due to a significant decline in revenue and market share. Or in Latin, operarius cave, “worker beware.”