Does fulfilment by Amazon represent the true utilitarian future of our retail experiences?

Everyone loves to get a present, and there’s nothing better than a gift-wrapped item. Of course, not everyone is a talented gift wrapper. My attempts look like a fight between a roll of tape and some gift wrap. And, if someone else can do a better job, for just a little expense, it makes sense to let the professionals do it. Just like washing your car. It’s not as if you are divesting yourself of the responsibility. You’re simply delegating it – outsourcing it to a more able person than yourself. Fulfilment by Amazon means having the site take care of your gift item at every stage, from selection to presentation to delivery.

One size doesn’t fit all

Not every package can be gift wrapped by Amazon and there has been some criticism about the quality of presentation. Larger and awkward items often can’t be gift-wrapped and so are sent in the manufacturers’ box, somewhat spoiling the surprise. Buyers wishing for a more personal service are now choosing a bespoke wrapping and delivery service. A bespoke service will carefully wrap and package your item, include a gift card or other personal messages and deliver your item safely. A personal service like this removes the risk that your item may not be delivered in the way that you would like it to be.

It’s what’s on the outside that counts

Fulfilment by Amazon really is paving the way for efficient, cost-effective gift-wrapping services that require very little thought on the side of the purchaser. It’s an exciting prospect to have to simply select an extra option or two at check out, and suddenly appear that much more thoughtful to your gift’s recipient. Gift wrapping from Fulfilment by Amazon will include an appropriate bag or wrapping, a decorative bow and an accompanying gift card. The charge for gift wrapping at the checkout will then depend on the size and shape of the item and will be worked out automatically inclusive of VAT.

Does Amazon have this wrapped up?

In 2015 Amazon shipped one billion items from Fulfilment centres in seven European countries and their centre in the US. Roughly 30% of packages are shipped internationally. That’s about six hundred and eight million items every year or a cool one and a half million cardboard boxes to fill every day. With all this capacity, somethings going to fall down occasionally, and things do. Do a little searching and you’ll come up with a few amusing pictures of when things don’t go according to plan. And for Amazon, this is obviously a tiny percentage of the total. But for the recipient, it’s a big deal. It looks bad on the gift giver, and it spoils a precious moment forever. So, aren’t there any alternatives? Or is this it?

Untying the Knot.

Global entities such as Amazon, eBay etc. stand astride the future of online shopping. But inevitably the generally good service they offer can’t suit everyone. And some occasions will raise a desire for something extra. Fulfilment by Amazon points the way forward for competitors who will be able to offer a more bespoke, luxury service with tailored gift wrapping as an alternative to the utilitarian service offered by Amazon. There are already a few competitors promising to disrupt an Amazon monopoly over this new market for fulfilment, however, it remains to be seen whether or not these smaller companies will be able to compete when it comes to the extreme levels of organisation and customer service that a much larger business like Amazon is able to offer. It will be interesting to see going forward how businesses have to adapt, or whether smaller competitors specialising in, for example, more individual, unique gift wrapping as opposed to Amazon’s streamlined, impersonal version will come forward to fill obvious gaps in the market.