Innovation Stemming From a Garage
How a Small Online Bookstore Became One of the World’s E-Commerce Leaders
Need a box of goldfish and some decorations for a family gathering this weekend? Amazon has got you covered!
Amazon is the king of the e-commerce market, valued at over $350 billion and Jeff Bezos is the brains behind the entire company. Bezos and his start up employees exclaimed, “Our vision is to be the world’s most consumer-centric company, where customers can come to find anything they want to buy online”. This concept may seem farfetched, but still very possible.
As Bezos grew, he developed an everlasting desire to learn why things work the way they do. Through the creation of a laboratory in his parents garage and mechanical contraptions to challenge his mental curiosity, he was on the road to success.
While Bezos was working as an entrepreneur on Wall Street with D.E. Shaw & Co., he did some outside research to see what his company should invest in next and he read this one statistic that changed his life: “World Wide Web usage was growing by 2,300 percent a month”. This one overlooked sentence led to him to realize the growth and endless possibilities of starting an online business.
In 1994, he moved to Seattle and decided to enter the world of e-commerce. Bezos made a list of possible products to sell online and books seemed to be the best option since even the largest bookstores could only have a few hundred thousand books available at hand. A virtual bookstore could have millions of titles in just one place. Bezos opened an online bookstore in his very own garage which once fueled his brain as a young child.
For his first year in business, he worked alongside five employees. Together they learned about sourcing books and making the perfect easy to use interface.
With little marketing and no promotional press, it was surprising when Amazon made just twenty thousand dollars in two months. Bezos could not have predicted this drastic outcome.
In July of 1995, Amazon opened its virtual doors to public with access to over one million titles to browse through. It even called itself “Earth’s Biggest Book Store”, as it was competing heavily with Barnes and Nobles. Bezos developed several innovative programs that would allow customers to add their own book reviews and a feature that recommends books based on past purchases. It wasn’t soon after when Amazon became one of the e-commerce leaders worldwide.
Amazon’s widespread popularity evolved from the word of mouth and through email. Orders were pouring in and Bezos was in dire need of more workers. It was not until September of 1996 when Amazon grew into a one hundred employee company, bringing in over $15.7 million in sales. And three years later, those figures skyrocketed to more than 3,000 employees and over $610 million in sales.
Amazon’s biggest competitor, Barnes and Noble did not just sit and watch Amazon steal all their customers and sales. Instead they put up their own website and began an aggressive marketing campaign where they explained they have double the number of books that Amazon has.
Bezos, who predicted this, had already expanded Amazon to include CDs so they can sell books and music to combat Barnes and Noble with that tagline “Books, Music and More”. This inclusion of music is only the start to a much larger expansion.
Bezos initially dreamed of an “everything store”, where a consumer can order nearly anything from. To achieve this dream, he would need to add more products than just books and music. He even thought about naming the company Relentless as it would be the perfect adjective to describe his company’s growth and soon to be, infinite selection. He branched out and added toys and electronics to the game.
After Amazon survived the dotcom boom of 2001 and 2002 and the market crash, it expanded further to offer jewelry, clothes, sporting goods, automotive parts, and nearly anything you can think of .
Amazon started producing products of its own like the Kindle Fire to compete with various other e-book readers.
Just last year, Bezos announced the Amazon Echo, a “smart” speaker that talks to you directly and mocks Apple’s Siri application on their mobile iPhones. Alexa, the name one uses to interact with the device, has been introduced to over three million living rooms so far. Alexa is a prime marketing strategy for Amazon as she can order anything for you from Amazon instantly. Are you running low on toilet paper? Alexa will gladly order you some more since she is directly linked to your Amazon Prime Account!
Amazon Prime is another aspect which changed e-commerce and positively grew Amazon. An Amazon Prime account, just 100 dollars a year (50 for students), will give you access to free guaranteed two-day shipping and other features like Amazon Music and Amazon Video which customers can easily stream on their computers and mobile devices. There are over 54 million Amazon Prime users and Bezos’ next goal is to find a way to draw customers away from Netflix and Spotify so his company can have complete domination on all ends.
All in all, Jeff Bezos innovative thinking and strategic goals allowed him to create an “everything” store like he had imagined. He was always one step above his competitor and aimed to be at the top.
Through his expansion of products to Amazon only products like the Kindle and Amazon Echo to the Amazon Prime account, he created a multimillion dollar company that is still growing today. When Bezos first started his expansion, he proudly proclaimed, “With the lead we have today, we should be the number one player.” Amazon is the number one player in the game of e-commerce!