It wasn’t the first bookstore to sell online. (Books.com launched in 1992.) But it behaved like a local store, whose shopkeeper knew customers by name – a bell even rang in the company’s Seattle headquarters every time an order was placed.
Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, set his sights on making it an “everything store". The company would go on to become not just an everything store, but an “everything company".
Today, 25 years later, Amazon has reshaped retailing permanently. It is one of the top three most valuable companies in the world, with a market capitalisation hovering around $1 trillion, greater than the GDP of nearly 200 countries.
If you had bought $100 worth of its IPO shares in 1997, it would be worth about $120,000 today.
Amazon continually took shopping convenience to newer levels.
Before 1994, shoppers had to travel to stores to discover and buy things. Shopping used to be hard work – wandering down multiple aisles in search of a desired item, dealing with crying and nagging kids, and waiting in long checkout lines. Today, stores try to reach out to shoppers anywhere, anytime and through multiple channels and devices.
After first experiencing two-day free shipping from Amazon’s Prime membership program, shoppers started expecting no less from every online retailer. About 100 million shoppers worldwide have Amazon Prime.
To say that Amazon has shaken up US retailing is almost a cliché at this point. Looking globally, we see powerful tremors from seismic shifts in retailing driven by Alibaba in China and MercadoLibre in South America...
In fact, Amazon is testing anticipatory shipping, a practice in which it anticipates what shoppers need and mails them the items without shoppers ordering them. Shoppers could keep the items they like and return those they don’t want at no charge.
More immediate questions relate to Amazon’s entry in two stodgy yet critical industries: health care and financial services.
Although Amazon has disrupted many industries, these two are heavily regulated industries in which the company hasn’t had much experience.
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