How a book delivery company became one of the biggest enterprises in the world and created the wealthiest man in the planet? Yes, we are talking about Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos. But in order to fully understand this success story, lets briefly introduce the founder of this enterprise, Mr. Bezos.
After studying computer science and electrical engineer at Princeton University while having multiple job offers at really well-known companies such as Fitel and Banker Trust, it was in 1994 when he decided to quit his very lucrative job, move to Seattle and start his own online bookstore (biography.com, 2014). Pretty risky right? Of course, as many of the successful companies nowadays, amazon.com started in a garage (very mainstream…) before being the multinational enterprise we all know today.
"Within the first few days, I knew this was going to be huge," Bezos said of the launch. "It was obvious that we were onto something much bigger than we ever dared to hope." (Investopedia, 2018).
Which basically meant that in the year 2005, he started practising one of the key factors that made him so successful: diversification. Amazon sold no longer only books, but electronics, apparel, hardware, etc. (Britannica.com, 2018). Nowadays, we find basically everything on Amazon, from food, to washing machines, socks and even vintage artefacts.
Today Jeff Bezos is the richest person alive. According to Forbes Billionaires Index his net worth is of $112 billion, compared with Bill Gates $95.3 billion (Forbes, 2018). This doesn’t only make him the richest man alive but also the wealthiest person in modern times!
Not only the company has diversified regarding the items it sells, but also the features and perks amazon Prime has (WSO, 2017), and the companies acquired throughout its existence, Zappos, Ring and Twitch are just a few examples (Inc.com, 2018). But clearly, Whole Foods, the multinational natural grocery chain that was sold for USD 13.7 billion wins the prize (Yahoo! Finance, 2018) as Amazon is selling some of its own items (like the Echo) in these stores, colleting tons of information from new buyers (CNCB, 2018) and offering exclusive discounts to Prime members. This is part of the plan of conquering the online grocery delivery business too.
The innovation strategy that Amazon has implemented also made it the most innovative company of 2017 (Fast Company, 2017). We see several advancements not only in the way the items are delivered but also internally on how the company works. For example, the importance they give to writing skills within the executives to deliver messages or the strategy to reduce the amount spent in meetings that in many occasions it becomes so oppressive that it’s hard to get any work done (Inc.com, 2018). The constant flow of ideas is considered an asset according to Bezos (Forbes, 2018), which are focused on the customers and how to make their lives easier. Take for example the Echo, Amazon’s impressive voice command device, that you can use to ask for songs, weather, time, sports teams, etc. Or the Kindle, allowing Amazon to positing itself as a leader in e-books.
Personally, I really like and trust amazon.com mainly because of their speed and customer service. Just to give you a personal experience, when I first moved to London, I ordered a bunch of stuff on Amazon during my first week, for my flat. According to the platform, the stuff got already delivered to my address (we are talking about+ 15 items, valued in more than £200). Nothing arrived to my flat, so when I called Amazon.com, they told me that they probably made a mistake with the address and that they would deliver everything tomorrow. No further questions asked. That level of trust and relationship they build with the customer, made me think that this online re-seller actually cares more about their customer than the money they are making. From what they know, I could have just lied about not getting my stuff…
“I would define Amazon by our big ideas, which are customer centricity, putting the customer at the centre of everything we do, [and] invention…” (Mcorp, 2018) says CEO Jeff Bezos.
Clearly not everything has been going perfectly with Amazon. Some challenges regarding poor working conditions and being considered one of the most dangerous places to work in the US (7 deaths from warehouses workers and multiple injuries) have been just a couple of the problems the company has recently faced (Engadget, 2018). Nonetheless, Amazon is still growing and is continuing hiring workforce, accounting for more than half a million people (more than Google, Facebook and Alibaba combined) (Investopedia, 2018).
So, in the end, what can we learn from Amazon’s experience to implement on our future businesses?
Follow your passion
- Even Jeff Bezos had a pretty decent job, but he had this dream and passion of something bigger. He made it! Having the excuse “oh... but the market nowadays is too saturated, it’s very hard to innovate” doesn’t mean anything if you truly believe and are passionate about your idea.
- Delivery by drones? Why not. Stuff that doesn’t sound so real today could mean the next big thing in the near future. Which also refers to keep experimenting with new ideas and new technologies to make the customers’ experience as efficent as possible.
- Not only books, but all the way up to natural food delivery is what Amazon did.
- It’s good to have a vision and plans to conquer the whole world. Taking a step at a time can give you the opportunity to learn from mistakes and strategies to innovate.
You don’t need to come from a ‘wealthy’ background to become successful
- There’s not much to say here…Jeff Bezos was a farm boy before starting amazon.com
Your customer is everything
- Learn who they are first, what are they needs and try to make them trust you. This way you can achieve the top of mind for your brand.