Should we fear the expansion of Amazon?
What data Amazon collects and how can it use to exploit the reatil market?
If Data was a kingdom, Amazon would be its king.
The company with a smile in its logo, that provides us with everything we desire, has already gotten a central position in our retail experience. But are we delivering ourselves into its hands when it delivers things to us?
Amazon is the largest market in the world; half of the online trade in the US alone is done through Amazon. From books and medical care to Aircrafts and TV shows, Amazon is everywhere. And during all this, it collects a huge set of data.
As the saying goes; Data is the new oil. It is this data that makes Amazon so powerful and often gets it under scrutiny from different government departments.
But what data amazon collects from its customers and how does it use that Data?
Difference Between Amazon and a Traditional Market
We give information about ourselves in a digital market that we never do in a traditional one. If we imagine Amazon doing what it does, in a traditional market, we would be like walking around with a little Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) behind us all the time. He would be watching what we are looking at, what clothes we try on, what qualities we want, and what preferences we have. He would be writing it all and then he would use this data to show us which products best fit our preferences.
Unsurprisingly, 30% of Amazon’s turnover allegedly comes from these recommendations.
What Data Amazon collects?
Amazon tries to maintain its privacy about the data it collects from the customers. It would not allow its officials to be interviewed related to data matters.
But the European Union Laws makes it mandatory for Amazon to release the amount of data it collects. That is how individual customers can know what Amazon knows about them. Amazon might know what they do not know about themselves.
For every click, there are around 50 columns in the released data. Amazon knows the second you click on something, what products you look at, your exact location, the network provider you are using and which webpage you are coming from and other minute details.
Too Much Data can be Dangerous
Data is dangerous when certain powers can centrally control it; Amazon is one of them. All this data creates a gigantic personality profile with frightening details, which gives Amazon the power to influence our behaviour.
It might not be unethical for Amazon to evaluate our preferences but the data is definitely vulnerable to unethical use.
Amazon can also use this big data to control the prices and manipulate manufacturers. The EU commission has already started an investigation on whether Amazon uses the Data it collects from third party retailers to promote its own products at the expense of other retailers.
The traditional marketplace is also losing its relevance. The emergence of online retail giants like Amazon are running traditional retailers out of business; which ultimately lessens the competition.
In the not-too-distant future, there would be no other option but to buy from Amazon.