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Amazon to Roxbury: We don't care

UPDATE: Amazon reverses stance, will start serving Roxbury.

Statement today from Mayor Walsh on Amazon's same-day delivery service:

We have been working with Amazon to show them that their current map of Boston leaves a hole right in the heart of our city, but it is clear they are not willing to change their policy. We understand that the people who run Amazon don't live here and might not understand our great neighborhoods, but this is an egregious mistake that must be changed. We will continue to push for inclusivity for the residents of Boston and we hope that Amazon realizes that this form of business is not good business.

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Comments

They can at least offer the service and see what happens, on a temporary basis.

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There aren't enough Prime members to generate enough deliveries to make the service viable. Who knows more about the package delivery system, Amazon or Marty Walsh?

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The only color he sees is "Money Green". Not saying this is a good or bad thing - but if you've read anything about him you come away with two things - a) he has a VERY long time horizon and b) if it makes money, he'll do it (and c - he is very demanding of his employees).

As you note, they've obviously run the numbers - and it's not profitable to deliver to this neighborhood. If it were profitable, they'd deliver. Walsh isn't going to get them to change their policy. If he can get more people to sign up for Prime - they'll add Roxbury to their map.

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Amazon does not turn a profit and doesn't try to. They're all about expansion, and any excess revenues are put back into growing the company.

That includes offering loss-leaders like same-day delivery (which has to be a money-loser relative to conventional delivery no matter where it's offered), in order to grow their Prime subscriber base and eventually become the place where everyone buys everything.

Which does make the exclusion of one particular neighborhood seem a bit strange!

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Where do you think those excess revenues to put back into growing the company come from? Yes - in aggregate they don't have profits because they spend any profits on things like technology, marketing and new warehouses. But they have VERY profitable operations which is where those excess revenues come from in the first place to reinvest in expanding the biz.

I'm sure they a) don't have unlimited resources - nobody does and b) have VERY sophisticated algorithms that tell them where they can expect to get the most bang for their buck. I'm also sure that the algorithm doesn't have a line in there that says "exclude all historically minority communities". These zip codes are excluded for one reason - arithmetic.

This is a "green" issue - 100% - pure and simple.

It's not as easy as "well someone driving through can drop off a package". I would imagine there might not even be anybody driving through that neighborhood depending on the delivery routing, number of drivers and a host of other metrics.

What's strange - and worrying - is that there are people (apparently including our mayor) that somehow don't understand how these businesses work and use data these days.

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Green is one thing, but redlining is another color issue.

Real or imagined discrimination is an issue that businesses have to deal with or face losing money in defending a lawsuit.

I'm sure the mayor very much understands what's going on with Amazon's decision.

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1. I am not a Prime member and I am able to order for same day delivery. My options are limited, but still available and I have done it.

2. Looking at the Amazon Boston donut here:
http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2016-amazon-same-day/
I would argue that a driver going from parts of JP to parts of South End, will get there faster by driving through Roxbury. Sounds like a 'Prime' time to drop off a same day package to me.

I'll also argue, that people in Roxbury who want same day delivery, might pay a little extra or an added fee to get it.

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make the service viable? they drive *through* roxbury to get to other delivery areas — what could be more viable?

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Well their "Roxbury" actually includes Mission Hill 02120. I find it hard to believe that the thousands of college students that live there don't order much on Amazon.

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Amazon's argument is they don't have Prime customers in an area where you can't get one of Prime's benefits...

I mean, that's like saying "I won't open a second location of my store in Lexington, because nobody from Lexington shops at my store in Quincy".

Typically, you go after new customers by better serving the places where you don't already have a lot of customers.

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Sounds like racism to me, if mailmen, ups, FedEx, furniture deliveries can go into Roxbury and deliver their service to the people , why can't a multi billion dollar company which dominates and sells just about every consumer product known to mankind, Amazon has decimated small retail businesses and jobs on a local and global level. I say boycott Amazon !! teach them a fucking lesson.

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Amazon does deliver to the people of Roxbury, there are even Prime subscribers there. They just can't get same-day delivery.

One could also say that Amazon has helped small retail businesses to expand their customer base thanks to the company's distribution network.

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I'm not defending Amazon, but Marty now has enough of a history of misrepresenting the remarks of others (examples abound in his handling of casinos, Olympics, IndyCar, GE, etc.) that I'll wait to hear something from Amazon directly before judging.

Now if only we had some sort of person who could investigate that sort of thing and report back what they find, perhaps in some sort of journal. A reportist? A journaler?

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First reported last Thursday by Bloomberg.
And of course you can google it:
Yer welcome.

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typing first and not following Adam's copious updates.

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So, it's okay to try and keep Walmart out of the city, but we're basically begging Amazon to help shut down our local businesses?

Quit your grandstanding Mahty, and look beyond the headline. I know you mayors are used to selling out your city, but at least do it with a local employer.

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If Amazon Prime 1-day was exclusively delivered in Boston by a Teamsters affiliated outfit do you think Marty would have complained?

HELL NO!

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Do you really want to start subsidizing underpaid Walmart employees? Because I don't!

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Walmart employees are not the property of walmart. If their income is not adequate they should find another job. Taxpayers are not subsidizing walmart when it pays the market rate for retail jobs.

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All those people who are working at Walmart who have employers drooling over them, right? And plenty of time to search for that mythical job you are referring to? Walmart knows they have them in a bind, it's why they bend them over as far as they can. If you ever read anything about Walmart's supply chain practices, you'd know they do the same exact thing to their suppliers as they do their employees, effectively telling them either to keep lowering their prices or they'll put them out of business.

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Having been one of their suppliers I can comment that they treat their employees better.

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When someone works 40 hours per week and still can't afford food and shelter, which is then provided by tax payers because Walmart pays so low, yes Walmart is being subsidized. Some towns only have Walmarts, so where should these people find other jobs? They also can't get seconds jobs or go to school because Walmart refuses to give them set schedules because they don't want people to better themselves and leave.

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While I understand for some people, Walmart will be the most they'll ever be able to do but for other young people, it's a lesson to pay attention in school!

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Isn't this still a pilot program that is only being rolled out to neighborhoods with high concentrations of Prime subscribers to start out? I don't understand why people are so up in arms over this. A lot of the neighborhoods that are not included in the initial rollout happen to be areas with high minority populations, but to insinuate that that is the reason they are not being included in this first wave seems pretty misguided to me.

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Did you read the original articles on this and look at the accompanying maps?

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Not only that but it includes very suburban areas extending up to NH. That throws out the whole density of customers argument

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I realize that Roxbury is the only neighborhood in Boston that's excluded, but it's a similar situation in all of the other cities that were announced as part of this program and the internet has been up in arms about it.

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Roxbury is the most egregious exclusion in the list because they literally drive through it to service other areas — other cities' excluded areas included something you could consider more of an outskirt (but is also worth questioning)

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The article this came from showed the same pattern in many cities.

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I am a Roxbury resident and I had already dropped my Prime membership, since they didn't offer that service here. Now I am unlikely to renew it.

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If the only reason you paid $60 a year for Prime was to eventually get same-day delivery, then that makes sense.

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To people with local knowledge, yes, this could be viewed as some racially-biased decision.

However, Amazon (probably) does not have "local/regional experts" sifting through Prime subscriber information to make decisions based on their coverage regions. I doubt there's somebody looking at the map and saying, "hey, there's a hole between these two neighborhoods so it would be inconsequential to add Roxbury to the delivery zones."

In all likelihood, they are fitting some statistical model based solely on the data they have about their subscribers- zip codes are either classified as 'yes' or 'no' for the same-day service. Sure, this is going to inherently weight away from neighborhoods like Roxbury due to probably a very strong association between Amazon Prime subscription and socioeconomic variables. They could likely change their model to incorporate spatial information (such as to cover these "islands" without coverage) but that's easier said than done.

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However, the Boston ZIP code with the highest proportion of black residents, in Mattapan, does receive Amazon same-day delivery.

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We will continue to push for inclusivity for the residents of Boston

Except when it comes to education. I will support the corrupt, apathetic, anti-progress teachers union when I know full well it means black kids won't get the education and support they need.

-Marty Hack Walsh

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Agreed that Amazon is all about the $$$ and not intentional racism. Still sucks though.

I tend to believe that this is data-driven stuff punched out by an algorithm rather than intentional redlining. Not sure if the article I link to below is the one I remember but a few data nerds who were looking at the excluded zones have started to say that it "looks" as though the zip code areas were screened by median income level more than any other fact (like prime membership #s or whatever ..)

This was an interesting writeup covering different cities with excluded service areas:
http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2016-amazon-same-day/

.. re-reading that article does not mention the "screened zip codes by average income" .. will try to find the source for that

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Why doesn't Roxbury turn the situation around and use this as an opportunity? If a buyer can't get his/her toilet paper and stapler delivered the same day by Amazon, he/she is more likely to go to a local store to buy the item. Same day delivery is just another nail in the coffin for local businesses.

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I was thinking similarly

Why doesn't Roxbury turn the situation around and use this as an opportunity? If a buyer can't get his/her toilet paper and stapler delivered the same day by Amazon, he/she is more likely to go to a local store to buy the item. Same day delivery is just another nail in the coffin for local businesses.

  • A Rox resident could start a same-day delivery business for home essentials.
  • Or start a business in a serviced zip where you'll have people deliver the 'last mile'

I realize this doesn't address Amazon's donut hole, but maybe there is opportunity in what seems like bad news.

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After Mayor Walsh issued his statement, Amazon said it would start serving Roxbury.

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Last I checked, there was no inate human right to one-day Amazon shipping. They are piloting things, and its entirely driven off the fact that outside of AWS their business has razor thin margins and they’re optimizing. An extremely significant portion of Amazon’s profit is simply the $99 year Prime fee (much like Costco making the bulk of it’s retail sales off the membership fee rather than the products themselves).

It’s not unreasonable for a company to avoid taking a loss or over-extending the pilot. Who knows the real reasoning? Its just a start, there’s no evidence that they wouldn’t roll it out more broadly later anyway. Of all the things to get in a fuss about, Amazon one-day shipping is not one of them.

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