Just How Far Can Amazon Go?
Just How Far Can Amazon Go?
Zone Leader, John Vester, reviews the flurry of activity on amazon.com, wondering just how much further the online retailer can go with meeting the needs of the consumer.
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Nineteen years ago, nearly to the day, I placed my first order on a website called amazon.com (Amazon), buying four paperback books. I made the online purchase, just to see what this whole buying retail items online was all about. Plus, I saved some money buying from Amazon too.
I noticed that I had the order shipped to a work address too, most likely out of fear that the package would not be left at the front door if no one was home when the delivery driver arrived. Anyone else remember the days of having to visit the delivery service after they tried to deliver the package only one time and no one answered the door?
Based upon my order history, I was not hooked immediately, since that was the only order I placed through Amazon the entire year of 1998.
Now, nearly twenty years later, the Amazon brand has become far more than a household name, it has become a way of life for nearly everyone I communicate with on a daily basis. In fact, I often hear the suggestion "have you checked Amazon?" before making a purchase - if nothing else to hope for a price match guarantee when making a non-Amazon purchase. Just last week, when buying flea medicine for our pets, I used the Amazon app to save $70 on the medicine, via the price match guarantee the retailer offered.
My mind has begun to wonder, just how far Amazon will go into being a part of our daily lives.
The Shark Tank Philosophy
If we were to flashback to the early days of amazon.com and find an eager Jeff Bezos on the set of the Shark Tank television show, just what would be the result of the interaction? For those not aware, the show features a panel of potential successful investors, who consider offers from aspiring entrepreneurs seeking investments for their business, product or service. What would they think of a site that is dedicated to selling products (initially only books) online for a discounted price?
Would they find a flaw in Bezos' model? Would they critique him to say that it will be impossible to compete with the brick and mortar giants - especially Walmart? Will they tell him he doesn't have a brand and is doomed to fail?
Since Shark Tank did not premier until 2009 and even the Dragon's Den (of which Shark Tank is based upon) did not air until 2001, there is really no way of knowing what the panelist might have told Jeff Bezos.
Watching the Shark Tank show, I realize the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face is the ability to build a brand. Clearly, Amazon has become a brand - probably the most successful brand to be introduced over the last twenty years. Amazon is certainly equal to successful long-time brands Coco-Cola, Disney, Lego, and McDonald's.
Success Through Innovation
The biggest part of Amazon's success has been their continued dedication to innovate the products and services they provide. Below, are some key innovations and services that Amazon has provided over the last twenty years:
1995 Online Book Retailer.
1998 CDs and DVDs added.
1999 Toys and Electronics added.
2000 Amazon Marketplace (3rd Party Sellers) created.
2002 Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced.
2003 Jewelry added.
2004 Shoes added.
2005 Amazon Prime service created.
2007 Kindle (book reader) introduced.
2008 Amazon Games Studios created.
2010 Amazon Studios (original television content) introduced.
2011 Kindle Fire (tablet) debuted.
2013 Amazon Prime Air (drone-based delivery) created.
2014 Amazon Echo ("Alexa") released.
2016 Amazon Go (automatic payment using Amazon account) prototyped.
Ironically, a majority of web-driven applications and services are powered by Amazon's technology-based products. Even the images displayed on DZone.com utilize Amazon's S3 service.
So, what's next for Amazon?
In June 2017, Amazon announced the acquisition of the Whole Foods company. Whole Foods is known for providing natural foods, void of any artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, or hydrogenated fats. With a footprint of over 450 Whole Foods Market locations in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, the acquisition should better power Amazon's desire to be a serious contender in the grocery space, both via buying groceries online and having a physical space for customers to visit.
Also during June of 2017, Nike confirmed a partnership with Amazon to have a dedicated space on amazon.com. This partnership will supplement the sales of Nike products from third-party vendors and likely introduce products which can only be purchased through amazon.com.
Rumors have surfaced of a potential Dish Network partnership that could evolve into Amazon providing mobile services to compete with giants such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. The thought is for the service to be part of the Amazon Prime service. It is unknown how the fee structure could work with such an arrangement.
Following the success of Blue Apron, Home Fresh, and Plated, Amazon has hinted on getting into the home food preparation space. Having tried a few of these services and an avid user of the Home Fresh service, I am personally interested in seeing where this concept lands. With the Whole Foods grocery service in place, Amazon could provide a quality product greater than or equal to the core players, but with the ability to scale better and offer products at a lower price point.
Finally, while on a business trip earlier this year, I saw a television spot where Amazon is considering entering the pharmaceutical market. If this becomes a reality, it should introduce a disruption in the prescription drug market that would have a benefit to consumers - far more than online pharmacies have been able to accomplish.
Amazon started their journey as a simple online book retailer. Through innovation and constant continuous improvement, they have diversified and enhanced the brand to provide services that consumers and business would struggle without at this point. When the history books are written, the evolution of the Internet will certainly have a large section dedicated to Jeff Bezos and his groundbreaking e-commerce vision.
After all, who would have thought you could not only purchase products like books, music, clothing, and toys online but groceries and prescription drugs, to0 - all using the mobile device you bought from amazon.com running on Amazon's mobile device network.
Just how far can Amazon go? Obviously, as far as they want, provided there is consumer demand on the other side asking for the product or service.
Have a really great day!
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.