As an online marketer you simply take for granted that whether you’re shipping to Hollywood Beach, Florida or Hollywood Beach, California you’re facing more or less the same logistics. However, if you were shipping wine you’d find that it’s a very different “case” as you’d be facing a mind-numbing jumble of regulations that vary not only from state to state but in some cases even county to county.
Hollywood Beach, Florida, for example, is in Bay County, so it’s fine to ship wine there – but if your customer was a few miles north in Washington County, it would be illegal. When the Amazon juggernaut announced that it was getting into the wine business after two earlier failed tries, many observers wondered whether their massive clout could overcome the regulatory obstacles or if it would be just another morass… and if it’s possible to teach old net companies new tricks.
Amazon Is Letting the Individual Wineries Take the Fall
With an eye to Wine.com’s burgeoning revenue, which is expected to reach $80 million by the end of this year, Amazon has taken the big plunge into the wine biz. In a departure from its conventional business model, Amazon Wine is essentially a third party marketing service that leaves the wineries to deal with the befuddling regulations of where to ship and where not to ship. At first glance this system seems fraught with obstacles as it leaves the wineries exposed to fines and other legal problems while Amazon stays above the regulatory fray. While this may seem like the right way to go about it from Amazon’s standpoint, the legal technicalities could prove to be more challenging. Would the law in “dry counties” interpret Amazon to be the actual “seller” with the winery being the “drop shipper?”
The Brilliance of Startups Is Diluted over Time
Although Amazon seems to be taking an approach that varies from its conventional business model, many long-standing online companies do have a tendency to become ossified over time. It’s conventional wisdom that the brilliance and sheer genius of many online startups is diluted over time as the entrepreneurial spirit wanes and the bean counters take over. A company will tend to get into a groove and stay there even when all signs (and revenue) dictate that it’s well past the time to shake things up.
Google’s Buffer Box Is a Dream Shipping System…for Pirates
Even the mega-companies like Google that have embarked on a wide ranging (and to some, perplexing) strategy of diversification into completely unrelated territories can fall into the trap of acquiring their “innovations” instead of developing them in-house. When they drop untold millions into buying supposedly innovative companies like their recent purchase of Buffer Box, it can lead you to wonder if the lights are on and anyone’s home.
Not only has Buffer Box’s total income to date been zero, but it’s a model that any first-year business student can tell you is terminally flawed. Buffer Box provides handy, widely-located, temporary PIN-openable “P.O. Boxes” to receive single items. That’s great until you consider that most companies will only ship products to the address on the customer’s credit card! Not to mention it’s a drug smuggler’s dream shipping system. What was Google thinking? They were likely just knee-jerk acquisition-reacting, not thinking at all.
It’s an old chestnut that entrepreneurs shouldn’t manage and managers shouldn’t launch companies. As an online marketer you might just be the one who finally explodes this incongruous fallacy. There has to be a way to keep that ember alive through the drudge of running the business itself, so go out and find it. You should realize that you don’t have to be a Steve Jobs to continually reinvent your company in order to make it a long term market leader. You just have to be smart, savvy and be willing to break out of the mold to prioritize your most important asset: Creativity!
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