Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two decades, you know Amazon. It’s hard to resist the impressive selection, competitive prices, fast shipping, and millions of customer reviews telling you why or why not to purchase a particular item. An Amazon Prime membership sweetens the experience further with even faster (and most often free) shipping
112 million people in the U.S. have Prime memberships—just shy of the average voter turnout in recent general elections. And on average, each account spends $1,400 a year on the platform.
If I’m honest, touting these stats is really just a way to make myself feel better about my personal Amazon activity. Fearing my annual spend was much higher than average, I recently ran an order report (there’s a way to do this from your account). Indeed, my household spent $6,921.48 in 2020, with a total of 357 orders for the year and even more packages.
Over the past month, I received 36 Amazon deliveries, which comes out to an average of 1.2 packages a day. Partly horrified and somewhat intrigued, I’m here to delve into what exactly I’ve been ordering and what it all means. Am I a deplorable consumer with no impulse-control or just a working mother taking advantage of the digital tools at her fingertips to optimize her life? Let’s find out.
A Breakdown of My Purchases Over the Past Month
In the last 30 days, I purchased a bottle of adult gummy vitamins, some leggings that are apparent Lululemon knock-offs, two packs of teeth-whitening strips (one for myself and one for my husband), a pregnancy book for a friend, a case of energy shots, diaper cream, an acidophilus supplement, a sticker book, probiotic gummies, Johanna Gaines’s most recent book, a bathmat, five pairs of toddler pajamas, body lotion for eczema-prone skin, cleansing balm, two wooden action figures, a shower door seal, allergy medicine, another shower door seal, AAA batteries, a rug, a toddler puffer coat, a coffee table book, aspirin, two tape guns, 9V batteries, a kitchen packing kit, paper towels, diapers, baby wipes, an assortment of bath toys, hyaluronic acid serum, ant killer, and printer paper.
A Sign of the Times?
As you can see, many of these items are everyday essentials—paper towels, diaper cream, skincare products. In years past, these products probably would have been purchased at the grocery store or my nearest Target.
But in the internet era—and even more so in the pandemic era—I like when things are just a few clicks away. I’m a modern woman with a busy life. Can you blame me?
Part of the Problem?
Though Amazon has basically everything you could possibly need in today’s world—from food to streaming content to housewares—some people believe we shouldn’t be contributing to its dominance. Concerns about the company paying nearly $0 in tax, Jeff Bezos’s almost unfathomable wealth, the treatment of its workers, and its effect on smaller businesses have raised eyebrows.
At the onset of the pandemic, there were many calls to shop local to prevent mom-and-pop shops from going out of business. I wanted to buy a couple of books for my son, so I thought, OK, I’ll order from my local bookstore. Unfortunately, the website was very difficult to navigate, making it hard to browse children’s books. So, I toggled over to Amazon to see what the most popular board books were, thinking I’d go back and search directly for them on the bookstore’s site and then order from there. But then I realized the prices were about double Amazon’s, plus shipping.
As you can probably guess, I ended up ordering the books from Amazon. I might be going to hell for this, but the truth is, I guess I’m willing to sell a small piece of my soul to the devil if it means my life will be a little easier.
Not That Big of a Deal?
I might not be helping my local economy, but the nearly $7,000 I spent on Amazon in 2020 helps the overall economy, right? And while my buying habits are undoubtedly well beyond average, I know there are many others like me.
And really, I guess I’ve always been an Amazon person. In the early aughts, my mom would order me books from the site. It was the one thing she’d buy me an unlimited amount of. At the time, I wished she’d be more generous with clothes and CDs, but today, as a professional writer, I’m forever grateful. Even back then, I was always impressed when my books would show up in our mailbox not 48 hours after ordering them.
The ability to order a solution (or several possible solutions) and have it show up on your doorstep one or two days later is the stuff of futuristic dreams, and I’m here for it. Some people might be able to resist and live an Amazon-free existence, but when it comes down to it, the platform is a significant component of life today.Do you ever find yourself standing at the supermarket considering whether to buy a new product, thinking, I need to see the reviews? Yeah, me too.