Don't boycott Amazon. Free it, instead.

Something to think about, on this and all future Black Fridays.

A world without friendly neighborhood shops, with owners that know your name and really understand your needs and preferences, is surely a poorer, more inequal and unfair world.

For this reason, many people worldwide insist that everybody should boycott Black Fridays and shop in person, instead, by local, small shops and artisans. COVID-19, that pushes small businesses towards bankrupt by making lockdowns and online shopping a necessity, has greatly intensified these calls.

Don't boycott Amazon. Free it, instead. /img/boycott-amazon-sure.jpg
Boycotting Amazon? Sure. But HOW???


Italian journalist Riccardo Luna just pointed out a much more effective way than “physical, walk-in-only shopping to protect the same businesses.

It wrong to assume Amazon’s exceptional convenience, that is, being able to buy everything with one click and quick home delivery is only possible with ONE multinational.

Here in Italy, during the first lockdown there were very interesting experiments of neighborhood-focused ecommerce.

Only during Italy’s lockdown butchers, bakers, ice cream makers and many more finally started advertising how to place home delivery orders. Many of them did it in the only immediately deployable way, that is through WhatsApp or Facebook messages.

Others, however, brought the practice to the next level, the right way to “protect small, local shops”.

Three young entrepreneurs in the Monteverde neighborhood of Rome, for example, gave local shopkeepers an online platform where customers can order everything and have it at home. It went so well, that when the current, second wave started, in October 2020, they expanded the service to other neighborhoods, including areas like Marconi, San Paolo, Testaccio and Trastevere districts, that are historically full of small, great but so far “digitally challenged” shops.

After this, Luna provides several more example of its main thesis:

  1. Online commerce is not the enemy of small historic shops. It extends, instead, the life of the ones that do make beautiful things, or offer useful services.
  2. [Above all], boycotting Amazon [or even online shopping tout-court] will have no more effect than the calls, made for decades now, to boycott supermarkets and shopping malls: what is different now is that, with appropriate digital skills and support, and some courage, those shops could really thrive.

Personal confession, and shameless self promotion

Make no mistake: there are plenty of reasons to boycott any company like Amazon, like all these, plus the scandal of wasted returns, and many other, lesser known things I have already covered here.

That said, sometimes I have used Amazon, and will probably do it again in the foreseable future. As little as possible, and mostly for two reasons that are not exactly “convenience”. One is spending gift cards I had received or, in a few cases, requested as the “lesser evil” among all the feasible alternatives.

The other is, very frankly, that while I do make a constant effort to live frugally, there are some things that, as of today, I could not get in any other way, or would cost much, much more. The only real solutions for this are:

  • in general, to buy as little stuff as possible period, no matter where or how.
  • with respect to Amazon, and that whole way to make “business”, spread as much awareness as possible about the wrong ways to sell and shop digitally. Please help me to do it.