Amazon: The World’s Largest Online Retailer

Amazon

Amazon has grown from a tiny startup operating from a second-hand computer, in founder Jeff Bezos’ garage, to a global retail giant with estimated total assets of $131.31 billion.

Owning big names such as Zappos, IMDB, LOVEFiLM and Woot, the company accounts for around one-third of all eCommerce sales in the United States and boasts more than 180,000 employees.

It also owns the publishing arm, Amazon Publishing, as well as its own TV and film studio, Amazon Studios. Furthermore, the company produces famous consumer electronic products such as Echo devices, Fire tablets, Fire TVs and Kindle e-readers.

Amazon

Credit: Pxhere

As a result of its AWS subsidiary, Amazon is also the largest provider of cloud infrastructure services on the planet. It also sells low-end products under AmazonBasics.

Founded by Bezos in July 1994, his philosophy for success is simple: “We aim to be earth’s most customer centric company. Our mission is to continually raise the bar of the customer experience by using the internet and technology to help consumers find, discover and buy anything and empower businesses and content creators to maximise their success.”

 

How did it all begin?

Bezos left his job as vice-president of Wall Street investment management firm DE Shaw & Co in 1994. After deciding it was time he participated in the internet boom that was gathering pace at the time, he relocated to Seattle, Washington, to complete a business plan for his new company that was to become Amazon.com.

He had an idea for launching an online book store. Initially, he worked from his garage, with minimal furniture – just his old computer and what employees described as “door desks”. These were desks actually built from old doors, with the legs being made from blocks of wood and attached using angle brackets!

His thrifty business practice of not going overboard in kitting out his office, unlike many internet startups at the time, contributed to Amazon’s success.

He decided on the name “Amazon” (the world’s longest river) to suggest a grand scale, as originally, the company’s tagline was “earth’s biggest book store”. He also wanted a name that began with the letter “A” because in the early days of the internet, website listings were often displayed alphabetically.

 

Company growth

The first book sold on Amazon in July 1995 was Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies by Douglas Hofstadter. The website’s popularity grew rapidly and in the first two months alone, it sold books across the 50 states in America and exported to 45 other countries. Sales were already buoyant at $20,000 a week by September 1995.

Amazon has continued to expand, even after many eCommerce companies began to struggle at the start of the 21st century, when the dot.com bubble of new startups and rapid expansions finally burst. Amazon not only survived the global tech crash, it moved forward further to become a massive player in online retailing.

Every Amazon employee, including the CEO, has to spend time working on the customer service desk, taking calls from customers for a few days each year, to fully understand how the process works. The company has built its reputation solely on its highly effective online customer experience.

It has brought transparency and trust to the online shopping experience by using the latest technology to guarantee a smooth consumer journey, and has set the standard for other eCommerce brands, achieving a level of customer satisfaction to which every online business aspires.

 

How has tech aided Amazon?

In the days when customers’ reviews online weren’t commonplace, Amazon was among the first eCommerce businesses to display them, adding transparency to the brand.

The company has become a leader in cross-selling. Although the practice is standard today in eCommerce, Amazon was the pioneer of the real-time product recommendation engine, giving consumers access to its vast marketplace.

Amazon also has a streamlined checkout experience. The company believes that when you sell commodities, the best customer service is the invisible kind – meaning that it’s incredibly easy for customers to browse, search for and purchase products. One-click shopping is an example of the processes that make it such a smooth journey.

One of Amazon’s biggest strengths has been building a complete, functioning network, seamlessly combining the goods with the distribution network and the technology to create a model that offers an unprecedented level of customer service.

With its growing list of tech brands, Amazon also provides great customer service for its popular Kindle products. It added a “Mayday” button to its Kindle Fire tablet, offering users 24-hour customer support and the chance to contact an agent live at the touch of a button.

According to an article in Tech Times, the customer service staff are happy to go above and beyond the call of duty. It was reported that one Amazon agent helped a stressed-out customer to pass a level of the game, Angry Birds, after being stuck for several days. Another agent agreed to sing Happy Birthday to a customer’s girlfriend after he had given her the Kindle Fire HDX as a present!

How do you find Amazon? Is the whole experience what it reports to be, or have you had a not so favourable encounter? It would be good to know your thoughts, so why not share your views on Psydro’s review platform?

Remember that every time you leave a review, you’re can enter our fabulous competition, which this month is offering 50 winners the chance to win cash prizes. Check us out folks!