New York City has seen an explosion in the number of people flocking to its retail centers.
But it’s not just about the huge crowds.
The new apparel and home furnishings giant is also working hard to make sure the places that used to be out of reach to the rest of us have the space they need to be the best.
We asked Amazon’s vice president of retail, Rob Schulze, about the company’s efforts to make the city’s neighborhoods accessible for people who otherwise couldn’t afford to live there.
Schulze has worked on this problem for more than a decade, having started at the company as a vice president in 2005.
He says the company started by focusing on the things that made New York great.
“We wanted to build great stores,” he says.
“But we also wanted to help people with the most difficult kinds of problems.”
When people go to the local mall, they see an average of 2,400 items on sale, compared to about 1,600 in the big city.
The average retail store has a staff of about 50, while a small one has fewer than 15 people.
Schlueze says Amazon started with one goal: Get people to shop more.
So in the late ’90s, the company created its own “shop” platform.
Customers could choose to shop online, in person or in one of several retail spaces around the city.
“We were trying to figure out how to make shopping a little bit easier, a little less stressful,” he explains.
The company focused on providing a way for customers to make a difference.
And that meant taking the traditional steps of getting in touch with local retailers to ask for help.
Schuler says he and his team worked closely with retailers and community groups to help them get better at finding their next order.
Schulzes team has also helped local businesses, such as the New York State Assembly of Commerce, establish a shopping center on the site of a warehouse that had once housed a department store.
Schuelzes team also worked with Amazon to get local businesses to upgrade their equipment and help them expand their inventory.
He remembers one day when the company gave him a new Amazon Fire tablet and asked him to help with the logistics.
Schulzes team has worked with the City of New York and other cities around the country to ensure that residents are able to find the products they need.
But one of the biggest challenges has been getting local residents to accept that they might not have to.
“There’s this assumption that we’re going to help these communities and that they’ll be good neighbors,” Schulzes says.
“The problem is that the community doesn’t know the extent of the problems, and that the communities don’t really want to help,” he adds.
Schutzs team says the biggest challenge facing cities today is that we have the ability to provide a great shopping experience but we haven’t been able to build the kind of relationships with local businesses that would make it easier for them to reach people.
The Amazon retail team has been working with local communities to create new ways for them not only to support local businesses but also for local residents.
“The people who are buying these products know how much they’ve been helped by our support,” Schuler says.
In the city of Houston, for example, the city has set up an Amazon kiosk in each of its stores to help customers get their items, including clothing and home goods.
And it’s working with community groups around the world to find ways to help businesses reach more people.
“In the same way that the local community has been able, through our retail operations, to grow, it’s also been able by connecting with the wider community,” says Michael A. Shaffer, the mayor of Houston.
Shaffer says that the Amazon retail system has helped Houstoners get a better sense of what it means to be a part of a global business and to build a better understanding of how that connects with the community.
Amazon is also partnering with several local nonprofit groups to provide free, high-quality education and training to local businesses and residents to help build their communities.
Amazon has also been working on an app that will give residents access to the kinds of information they would need for shopping, like tips on where to buy, what products are on sale and more.
The city of Santa Monica is also using the Amazon service to create opportunities for local businesses.
“Amazon was a great resource to us in the early days of the city,” says Steve Zadrozny, the director of business development for Santa Monica.
“It was very important to us that we make this a positive place for everyone.”
For years, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce has helped local retailers find out where they can set up shop and offer help to the community by putting together a directory.
“One of the things we did was get all the vendors together, put the names on