A figure beyond the bounds of most of our imaginations, a sum too staggering to comprehend for all but the select few.
More tantalisingly still, the gargantuan figure is the net worth of a man who upon starting his own business — in lieu of an actual desk — placed four wooden slabs beneath a supine wooden door inside his garage to use as a makeshift table, with a hastily erected Amazon logo subsequently hung nearby.
From such humble beginnings, Jeff Bezos prospered to become the wealthiest man on the planet, overhauling fellow Seattleite Bill Gates in late 2017.
Now a global brand, the one-time literature database has targeted the UK as the next market with potential for expeditious expansion. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed: “The UK will play a leading role in the company’s global innovation.”
Manchester and Cambridge were the first UK locations to host Amazon warehouses, creating an abundance of employment, although workers past and present have given mixed reviews, with sections expressing concern for the company’s probation policies.
Speculation has been rife amongst business media moguls that the next progression will be for Amazon to roll out their ‘Amazon Go’ checkout-free grocery stores around the UK in late 2020, with Newport, Isle of Wight, among half a dozen prospective destinations blueprinted for the prototype.
Far from the recruitment generated by the Manchester and Cambridge sites, this is a predominantly machine operated franchise destined to affect a slew of issues for adjacent supermarkets.
The concern with Amazon Go is that it relies almost entirely upon cameras and sensors to run its stores, with only a sprinkling of entrance and shelf replenishing staff necessary for the successful operation of the location.
There are already more than 25 of these active in the US, following the Seattle initiation at the start of 2018.
Customers place their credit or debit card on file before entering and are then tracked by cameras, which register the items that they’ve taken (or put back) and subsequently funds are removed from their accounts within seconds. In the case of returns, the customer can re-enter the store, replace the item and receive a refund within minutes.
This all sounds fine and dandy in principal, other than further evidence of the foreboding lurch towards Orwellian society, but the reality is that it could cause more harm than good.
Stores such as Asda, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury are likely to be hit by this development, as people opt for the convenient, time savvy alternative that Amazon Go offers. As one domino topples it is likely others will follow.
The pool is already too crowded in the Island’s capital town for another warm body to dive in haphazardly, let alone one that manipulates the Isle’s populace as figurative rodents plodding around a hamster wheel as part of this behemoth’s quest for global domination.
While I am all for the next wave of technological innovation, this advancement reeks of redundancy. Are we not, as Brits, proud of our tolerance for static queues? Are we not the kings and queens of small talk with cashiers? Let us stand as one and chant “ASDA, ASDA, ASDA” until our throats are bone dry.
You can take our minimum salaried, labour intensive jobs Amazon, but you can’t take our seven minutes of waiting for the person in front to dig through their shrapnel to find the right money!
I am grateful to Mr Bezos and his Amazon website for making Clipper tea bags, Anonymous masks and memory foam pillows so readily affordable, the man is a genius – this is a step too far though. It is time that the Wight unite to make sure that we don’t become fungi in a billionaire’s Petri Dish… Unless he wants to throw in a floating bridge that doesn’t sink that is.