retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg has a profile of Dave Clark, Amazon's global logistics chief, who has "spent billions of dollars building a sprawling delivery operation that includes a worldwide network of robot-filled warehouses, fleets of planes and delivery vans and hundreds of thousands of workers … Clark’s boss, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, may dream of a future when quick delivery is largely delegated to drones flying through the skies and robots rolling down sidewalks. But Clark inhabits a messier present, where meeting Bezos’s expectations falls mostly to hourly workers who endure long shifts fetching and packing products and driving them to homes."

An excerpt:

"Clark grew up with Amazon, taking his first job there in 1999 and quickly rising through the ranks. His longevity has made him a trusted caretaker of the company’s oldest and largest business. Now 47, he’s among more than 20 senior executives on Bezos’s coveted S-team and next year will take on the added responsibility of running the brick-and-mortar operations, including Whole Foods and the Amazon Go chain of cashierless convenience stores. Clark declined to be interviewed for this story.

"His colleagues describe a demanding manager who is impossible to bluff. During the holidays, Clark’s team meets daily to review metrics about Amazon facilities around the world. Clark can zero in on any signs of trouble since he’s been scanning the same figures for 20 years. A key metric is the estimated delivery time shoppers see when they view a product on Amazon, which is broken down by geography. If the number is moving in the wrong direction, Clark demands an explanation and a solution. The culture is far from pleasant, but current and former insiders marvel at its effectiveness."

And the challenges will only get more complex, as Amazon endeavors to take more control of its supply chain and delivery infrastructure.

Fascinating piece, and you can read the entire story here.

By the way … CNBC has another Amazon-centric story worth reading about how the retailer has been relentless in recent actions aimed at "snuffing out competitors and playing hardball wherever possible." Scary stuff, and just for its recitation and analysis of the past couple of months, worth checking out here.
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