Amazon: It's not our job to worry about fears we're killing retailers and destroying jobs

  • Amazon SVP Russell Grandinetti said it's for society and government to figure out how to deal with the company becoming a $178 billion disruptor in the retail sector.
  • "I don’t think it’s our job to do anything but try to be really good at what we do," he told The Sunday Times.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said a number of times that the company is ready for a debate about regulation.


Amazon is a $178 billion disruptor in the retail sector. Its sheer scale has marked it out as a target for US President Donald Trump, who reportedly obsesses over the company's impact on the US Postal Office, the amount of tax it pays, and the potential harm it is causing other retailers.

"Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers. Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt - many jobs being lost!" Trump tweeted in August last year.

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Inside Amazon pick-up locations
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Inside Amazon pick-up locations

Amazon@Westwood is Amazon's pickup center in the downtown area of Westwood, Los Angeles. It's just a stone's throw from UCLA.

The locations are staffed with an employee waiting behind a desk to help customers with whatever they may need.

I'm not really sure what you'd need help with, though. You can only do two things here: pick up orders and drop off returns. Both require virtually no assistance.

Ordering something to be delivered to an Amazon pickup center is easy.

Just select it on the ordering page when Amazon asks for your address.

Upon first walking in, the kiosks are available to call up your order.

I decided to use the Amazon app instead. When you arrive, you press the "I'm here" button. Then you wait about a minute for a person in the backroom to put your order in the locker. The app tells you how long you need to wait, when it is ready, and where it is.

The pickup lockers are much like a typical Amazon Locker, but they're hollow in the back to allow them to be stuffed with goods.

They also have advertising on them — it was for Fila fragrances when I visited.

Scanning my phone was a cinch.

All of the sudden, a door popped open. There was my package.

Immediately opposite, there's a space to rip open your package and a place to recycle the packaging. Why is it necessary to use the packaging to get items delivered here? That's just one of the many mysteries of the Amazon pickup center.

I ripped open the package and revealed my classic of American literature. I found it weird, and possibly wasteful, that the book was packed in a normal Amazon envelope considering it would've come from its own fulfillment center.

For boxes, there was a handy opener available.

The real value of the pickup location? Dropping off returns. Throw it in one of the provided plastic bags, label it ...

... and drop it in the bin. This is one of the few times that returns on Amazon are consistently free.

The store was very close to UCLA's Westwood campus, and it was clearly marketed toward the college student.

Overall, Amazon's pickup location is convenient, easy, and efficient. There are a few benefits for certain shoppers to picking up orders and dropping off returns.

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But don't expect Amazon to start worrying about its impact anytime soon.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Russell Grandinetti, Amazon's senior vice president of international consumer, said his job is to focus on growth — and it's for others to figure out how to deal with the ripples Amazon creates in the marketplace.

"Companies have often invented technologies that have then required us to figure out how to reinvest the productivity improvements in new jobs and new ways," he said. "That’s an important societal thing to do, an important governmental thing to do. I don’t think it’s our job to do anything but try to be really good at what we do."

The Sunday Times said investors will "cheer" his relentless focus on revenue, but critics will worry "he is turning a blind eye to the disruption Amazon causes."

Grandinetti did, however, address concerns that Amazon is destroying jobs, by pointing to those it creates. He said: "We create lots of jobs not only in the company — 100,000 in the US last year alone, 5,000 in Britain — but also in the suppliers we serve."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said a number of times that the company is ready for a debate about regulation.

"If you look at the big tech companies, they have gotten large enough that they are going to be inspected. It’s not personal," he said at an event in Germany in April.

The Amazon CEO said policing the power of online companies is "one of the great questions of our age" because as the internet has reached a level of maturity over the past decade "we haven’t learned as a civilization, as a human species, how to operate it yet."

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SEE ALSO: Jeff Bezos says Amazon is ready for a debate about regulation after Donald Trump's repeated attacks on the company

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