Amazon might still be “small” in Jeff Bezos’ eyes, but the web giant’s chief executive officer has a big challenge for the brick and mortar competition.
“Today I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage,” Bezos said in his annual letter to shareholders Thursday morning. “Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone.”
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hours and retailers generally pay more than that. Walmart Inc. pays workers at least $11 an hour and has plans to move to $15. Target Corp. starts store employees at $13 now.
Retailers are struggling, in part, with competition from the web, particularly Amazon.
But Bezos said the e-commerce leader has plenty more room to grow.
“Amazon today remains a small player in global retail,” he said. “We represent a low single-digit percentage of the retail market, and there are much larger retailers in every country where we operate. And that’s largely because nearly 90 percent of retail remains offline, in brick and mortar stores.”
He noted Amazon is starting to go into stores, in its own high-tech way that doesn’t require cashiers.
“With Amazon Go, we had a clear vision. Get rid of the worst thing about physical retail: checkout lines,” he said. “No one likes to wait in line. Instead, we imagined a store where you could walk in, pick up what you wanted, and leave.”
Amazon also owns Whole Foods.