Most probably, back in 1994, no living person on Earth would have seen any sense whatsoever in giving a dotcom startup Company the megalomaniacal name “Amazon“.
After all, the Amazon is the most important river of our planet: it is the largest, the second longest, the biggest reservoir of fresh water on the planet (about 20 percent of all running water), its rainforests are the biggest oxygen generators and contain more than one-third of all species in the world, including plants, mammals, fish and reptiles.
But for a guy named Jeff Bezos a name like “Amazon” (which also starts with an “A” so it will show up among first alphabetic results) seemed a perfect fit. Well…maybe for his dreams rather than for the reality, provided that the Company he just founded was -at least at its very beginings- meant to sell online small and easy to ship items such as printed books.
A bookstore with no storage needs but with online ordering reach, that is.
Needless to say, it started in a garage of course, like most of all other IT-business legends (so if you think about creating your own business in IT or Internet but you don’t have a garage, you’d better think twice before inauguration).
Anyways, Amazon grew really fast (most dotcoms had spectacular evolutions at that time) but maybe now is a good moment to note the first symptoms of Bezos’ totally non-conformistic business model: on May 1997, Amazon issued its initial public offering on stock (IPO) but its business plans stipulated that no growths in terms of profits were to be expected for the 4 or 5 upcoming years.
In other words, just like a fisherman were trying to get fish by using a bait whose smell is what fish hate the most.
No wonder his “fish harvest” was not spectacular at all, but it is however impressive that after the dotcom bubble bursted out Amazon wasn’t on the huge list of casualties.
On the contrary, it quickly thereafter became world’s number one online retailer and in 2001 Bezos kept his promise to shareholders regarding profits. AMAZON’s first profitable financial report dates as of the last quarter of 2001 and was about 5 million USD whereas its revenues were more than 1 billion USD!
About 0.5 % profit compared to incomes, apparently an insult to investors, but hey, it’s Jeff Bezos running this show!
A business magician, keeping in mind that despite its notorious thin profits (when there were no plain losses, to be more precise), its shares are solid, are growing and paradoxically they still attract investors.
It’s simple: everything is re-invested in new business lines and directions, which very soon become profits generators on their own also making way to new opportunities of business lines and directions.
The 1994 online bookstore started to sell other products than books, more and more products so now one can buy anything from shoe-laces to electronics or even industrial items.
But foreseeing the IT infrastructure needed for that, important investments in computing power were made, so big that Amazon soon got to sell web-scale cloud-computing services.
New businesses spawned like, for example, getting producers to directly sell via the online store, retaining just some kind of online-platform fee.
Second-hand products were allowed too, much to the discomfort of eBay.
And since everything started with books, why not make the next step and sell an own wireless tablet (the Kindle e-book) as means to actually sell electronic books thus “turning the page” to a new way of using and handling books?
Then consider delivery of goods to consumers: it’s a really important aspect and one which really needed a revolution too.
Well, early this year Amazon announced and even made public some tests, that it will soon use drones to make deliveries.
And about one month ago, Amazon released its own smartphone, the “Amazon Fire“.
Not to compete with smartphone giants, of course, but rather to offer a promising tool that will bring users new online-buying experiences.
The above are just exemplifications, the complete pallette of services Amazon offers is really huge.
Add to this “agressive re-investment” technique the fact that costs are minimized in a rational way.
For example, they have software development centers across the globe but take a look at some of their European locations: Dresden (Germany), Rijswijk (Netherlands), Iasi (Romania), Slough (England) or Dunfermline (Scotland).
Not exactly world’s most notorious, right?
And yet there surely are good reasons for this.
But perhaps the most important element that needs to be outlined about Amazon’s success is its customer support service.
Last year Amazon was voted the most trusted Company in the US, beating the previous king, Apple.
And although the quality of their support is well-known (support centers are spread worldwide and some are in “unusual” locations too), we should say that during the researches we’ve made for this article we got impressed by the stricking number of positive user-comments (on various websites) regarding the support Amazon provides.
With all these ingredients now, 20 years after (as Alexandre Dumas would put it), Amazon dotcom seems to indeed have become for online sales what the Amazon without the dot com termination is for the global ecosystem.
Make no mistake, this article is not some kind of “laudatio”: it simply tries to depict the particular case of an Internet giant which actually inovated nothing in terms of pure technology.
Instead, its unique business model and strategy is unparallelled and its organic inter-weaving of new businesses development is spectacular.
To such an extend that an early employee of Amazon (not working there any longer since quite few years now) wrote on his blog that competitors shouldn’t be happy each time Amazon reports losses: they’d better be terrified.
Our question in the title was: to where the Amazon flows?
Well, to the ocean, of course, but not to supply it with water and nutrients.
This Amazon is obviously up to taking on the entire ocean.
Thank you for reading this, folks, bye for now!