Aggressive antitrust enforcement could kill contact-free delivery – OCRegister


As we near the one-year anniversary of social distancing, it’s safe to say that our economy has taken quite the blow. In December alone, America lost 140,000 more jobs — adding to the net 10 million jobs lost since April. And with mutating versions of the coronavirus threatening an already-shaky vaccination program, many Americans will likely remain at home longer than we’d hoped.

Unfortunately, lawmakers, the Department of Justice, and many State Attorneys General forget the widespread benefits America’s online businesses bring us every day. They’re just dead set on making things even harder on us.

It’s no secret that our government is out to get Big Tech — everything from their recent lawsuits against Google and Facebook to the House Judiciary Report makes this clear. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, wants “aggressive and effective” antitrust enforcers staffed in the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to punish the success of America’s tech industry.

But consumer preferences make one thing clear: The American government is on a misguided rampage against businesses that have helped us the most throughout this pandemic. Unlike what current lawsuits might have us think, American tech businesses aren’t harming consumers — they’re providing us with lower prices and added benefits every single day. Losing things like generic brands and free two-day shipping because of government overreach? Now, that’s what will harm American consumers.

Every day, Americans take advantage of thriving e-commerce marketplaces to get products they need as safely as possible. Services we now rely on during this pandemic (like expedited shipping and video-conferencing) are free-to-use or sold cheaply thanks to vigorous competition in the digital marketplace. Because larger companies can afford to offer services that aren’t profitable, we get to have more accessible and affordable products.

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A majority of American households now have access to Amazon’s two-day delivery, a cost-ineffective practice for the company. But if lawmakers were to break up online companies, it’s likely that American tech companies couldn’t provide innovations like Prime Delivery or free messaging simply because taking such a loss wouldn’t make business sense. Consumers would have to buy products from smaller digital marketplaces and pay exorbitant shipping fees.

Because e-commerce marketplaces benefit from economies of scale, we get more products and choices for lower costs. That means more options for groceries, clothes, and essential products we need. While this benefits everyone, it’s particularly important for immunocompromised Americans who can now get their medical supplies and groceries delivered contact-free for prices on-par with their usual retailers.

Contact-free and quick-delivery options are now essential online ways restaurants and small businesses can reach an eager army of customers who are trying to stay as safe as they can.

Restaurants across America can provide delicious food at affordable rates for both them and their customers. And, the delivery app sector has doubled in size and demand in the second half of 2020. Thanks to delivery services like Doordash and UberEats, my favorite pizzeria doesn’t have to front the high start-up costs required for contact-free delivery and my family can order from multiple restaurants without fear of COVID-unsafe protocols.

And it’s clear that online shopping and delivery is here to stay. American e-commerce sales grew by over 30 percent, doubling their 2019 growth rate. Brick-and-mortar grocers and retailers like Kroger and Walmart are expanding their online offerings and delivery services. Even pharmacy programs at Walgreens, Amazon, and other retailers are making it easier for patients to reach necessities during the pandemic.

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Aggressive antitrust action will spell the end of affordable and COVID-safe online options for consumers as the newly-splintered companies would not be able to justify the economic overhead. And small businesses would lose out as well — facing higher overhead costs, a more complex sales pipeline, and a landmine of ever-changing pandemic protocols.



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