The Success of Amazon.com… Part 2

What got me rambling about the success of amazon.com the other day ? Not the fact that I would know much about it. But rather that reading about the incredible infra-structure behind amazon which – while a milestone in efficiency – is so much more “traditional” – factory like – than a true web-based only company. Amazon is not really what you think of as a dot.com and maybe not what Bezos thought it would grow up to be when he started out. Just seeing the warehouses in action and realizing their size puts it more in the company of general motors or other heavy industry giants!

So with all the manpower, the hardware, the shipping costs etc, why are they so successful ? I can think of these reasons:

1) Amazon was among the first to try online shopping, and has almost created something of a template for an online store. Amazon is the real original, the real deal. If you want people to have a comfortable experience shopping online, try duplicating what amazon offers.

2) From personal experience, I’d say that amazon is fun. I like to look up books and find comments and reviews and see what other books people who bought the book and have already done the research I’m conducting ended up buying. If you want to know about books, you don’t google it, you go to amazon and read about them there. It’s like a sub-web, or would that be the deep web ? In fact, half the time, you google something, there – among the top 10 hits – is an amazon page with a book about the subject. You could spend all day on the web, and never leave amazon.

3) Inviting others to sell their products alongside your own may seem crazy at first. But it’s super smart. I almost always choose the new book from amazon and pay more for it than the “as-good-as-new” version from another seller. Showing the customer where else they can get the book cheaper is only dumb when you’re selling your stuff for too much money. It’s brilliant when you’re selling the book new – with free shipping – at only a few bucks more than the guy selling the used one. In fact, I read that 20% of amazon revenue was from commissions paid by other sellers using amazon market place.

4) Although we were promised many times over the past decade and although it would be very environmentally friendly, none of us will live to see the paperless society ! To start an online bookstore at a time when people were talking about the final days of the book may have seemed anachronistic. But the book’s still around. In fact, I think more books are cranked out now – at least more paper mass crammed between 2 covers – than before, and while I laugh at people trying to sell me an 800-page software manual at Barnes and Noble for $59.99, I’m more than happy to shell our $35 for it at amazon, mostly because I think I’m getting a bargain. No telling how many of those I’ve bought this year alone. I’ve lost count.

5) Amazon does all sorts of other things I’m not at all familiar with. I’ve never used their search engine or mechanical turk, certainly none of their computing powers… but like google they’re not willing to put all their resources in one area. They’re true entrepreneurs, they visionary type. Google does the google phone. They do kindle. No telling what amazon will come up with next. Maybe they will team up with google and send the first man to Mars. They’d certainly do a better job than NASA.

6) Some websites you sign up with soon make you regret you did. You’re bombarded with emails you don’t want telling you about products you don’t care for. Amazon seems to do this much bettter – more subtly. They do send me emails about special deals and recommendations. But I feel like they are targeted based on things I’ve bought or browsed for and are if not always interesting at least tolerable, and I don’t mind that. It’s like my friendly store is keeping in touch, reminding me to come back. 🙂 Amazon is good at getting the little things right. From the little logo on the brown cardboard box that arrives at your house to the user friendly environment when ordering things…

To make a long story short, I really like amazon.com.

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