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From Selling Books to a Multi-Billion Dollar Company: How Amazon Did It?

The journey to world domination
May 9, 2024

People love stories, and one is about a man who wanted to sell books in a new way and became a billionaire doing so. Let’s talk about Jeff Bezos and the success he built with Amazon.

The e-commerce giant is not a simple platform for online purchases; that’s what the company is mostly known for, but there is much more behind the brand. Amazon is a powerful software company with Amazon Web Services (AWS), an on-demand cloud computing platform, and a competitive streaming service with Prime. Numbers don’t lie, and in fact, the same AWS has grown by 17% year by year, resulting in a revenue of $25 billion in this quarter, according to the stock reports.

Today, Amazon is one of the most valuable companies in the world, on the same list as Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Meta. But how did they magically transform an online bookstore into one of the biggest companies on the planet?

Thinking forward and expanding the services

We intentionally mentioned AWS and other Amazon services to showcase the diversity the company ensured for its business portfolio. No matter how successful you are at the moment, the business environment is changing, and sooner or later, you’ll be left behind unless there are some plans to offer more than customers expect.

Besides positioning themselves as a cloud-computing behemoth, Amazon’s leaders never underestimated the importance of being the everyday companion of their customers. If you are a tech-savvy person, you might know a lot about the new smart home devices and the way they serve hundreds of thousands of people every day. One of the early examples of such devices was Alexa, designed specifically to be controlled by voice commands. One interesting thing is the product's name, the origin of which is related to the historical library of Alexandria. Jeff Bezos named the product after his love for books.

Obsessive Focus on Customer Satisfaction

Amazon didn't just sell things; they completely changed how we think about shopping. Customer happiness was their obsession from day one. Jeff Bezos famously said, "We see our customers as guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better." And you know what? They meant it!

Think about it: one-click ordering? That made buying something almost too easy. Lightning-fast shipping, especially when Prime came along with its promise of two-day delivery? That was unheard of back then. Amazon made returns painless, building trust that you could try something out without hassle. And those "Customers who bought this also bought..." recommendations? They got to know us so well, that sometimes it felt like they were reading our minds (and tempting our wallets).

These weren't things every online store was doing – Amazon went the extra mile to make shopping a breeze. That's how they earned a loyal following. Happy customers come back for more, and they tell all their friends how amazing Amazon is. That kind of word-of-mouth marketing is worth its weight in gold.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Amazon understands that information is power, especially when it comes to what shoppers want. They track it all – what we search for, what we look at, what we buy (and even the stuff we leave abandoned in our digital shopping carts). But they don't just sit on all that data. Amazon uses algorithms to figure out patterns, the kind of stuff that drives their decisions.

It's how they give us that super-accurate "you might also like…" suggestions, tempting us with things we didn't even know we needed. It also helps them know what products to keep in stock and in which warehouses, so things ship out faster. They even use data to adjust prices, staying competitive and keeping us coming back. Amazon's website is constantly changing, as they test tiny tweaks to see what makes us browse longer and click "buy" more often.

Culture of Innovation and Experimentation

Amazon never gets lazy. They believe every day should be treated like "Day 1" of a brand new company, always hungry to grow and try new things... even if there's a chance they might fail. That's why they're not just a place to buy books anymore (remember when that's all they did?).

Think about it: Amazon Web Services (AWS) is their cloud computing business, and it's used by tons of companies all over the world, including some very big, and famous brands. The Kindle changed how we read, and gave them a whole new way to sell us content. Alexa and those Echo devices? Amazon was way ahead of the curve in terms of smart speakers, making our homes high-tech. Then, they shocked everyone by buying Whole Foods and jumping into groceries to become an even bigger part of our daily lives.

Not every wild idea works out (remember the Fire Phone), but it's that willingness to try that helps Amazon stay ahead of the pack.

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