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Column: Amazon, Procter & Gamble, and the underpants gnomes



It was 1998 when South Park introduced us to the underpants gnomes, a group of subterranean entrepreneurs trafficking in dirty laundry. They had a three-step business plan:

1. Collect Underpants

2. ???

3. Profit

In the 15 years since "Gnomes" first aired, these little guys have become a kind of grand metaphor, cited by the New York Times, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal, and used to describe everything from dot-com startups to American presidents.

They illustrate – rather colorfully – the idea that it’s not enough to know where you’re going. You also need a plan for getting there.

Amazon sells underpants and does just fine with them, thank you very much, but toilet paper may be the online retailer’s undoing.

Amazon now shares warehouse space with Procter & Gamble, and is in talks to do the same with other vendors, including Seventh Generation and Kimberly-Clark.

The intention is to ship personal care products straight from the assembly line to the customer, eliminating the need to warehouse them.

Full story at Minyanville.


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