Here in the 21st century, Amazon is a household word. Not because of the great river, or the rainforest, or even the powerful Amazon women of Greek mythology, but because of a website. A website that has been revolutionizing online shopping for almost two decades.Thisis Amazon.com, known as Earth’s most consumer-centric company.
Amazon.com is known as an international electronic commerce company. In other words, they are one of the world’s largest online retailers, selling everything from books to groceries, software, electronics, and even furniture and fine jewelry. What many people don’t know, though, is that Amazon was started as simply an online bookstore. However, they soon added a wider variety of merchandise, and most notably started their own line of e-readers and an entire store of e-books, known as Kindle. Now, Amazon is also a major proponent in the world of cloud computing, and they have recently added a service known as Amazon Instant Video that is similar to Netflix in that it gives user the ability to stream video content for a monthly fee.
Amazon.com was founded in 1994 in Washington, where the headquarters are still located today. It was initially founded as Cadabra.com but was changed to Amazon.com before it went live. The name Amazon came from the great Amazon river, which was in turn named after the Amazon women of Greek Mythology. The most notable change that occurred in Amazon’s early years was the diversification of inventory previously mentioned– it transitioned from a bookstore to an internet superstore. It’s arguable that if you can’t find it on Amazon, it doesn’t exist.
In 1994, Jeff Bezos was working as Vice President of a firm on Wall Street known as D E Shaw &Company. Seeing the immense potential that the internet held for commerce in the early 90’s, Bezos was bit with the so-called “internet bug” and as a result, he moved to Seattle, Washington and started work on a plan that would become Amazon.com. According to a 2013 article by Josh Spiro, Bezos founded the company in his garage in Bellevue, Washington, just outside Seattle. He knew before he founded the company that he wanted it to start with an “a” so it would appear early in alphabetical listings, and he found the word “Amazon” in the dictionary and thought it to be just the unique fit he wanted for his new business.
Initially, Amazon was not expected to generate much profit for the first five year it was in business, says an article by Robert Spector that was published in 2002. Sure enough, just after the five years ended, Amazon made its first real profit in the fourth quarter of 2001, with a profit of five million dollars on one billion dollars generated in sales. Now that Bezos and his company had crossed into the 21st century, he was confident that success was in the cards. Since then, Amazon has proven itself worthy of its status in the internet world, and has risen to the top due in part to their incredible partnerships. They have secured deal with DC Comics, Sears , Toys-R-Us, and Target, just to name a few. One more instrumental piece of the puzzle that caused Amazon to reign superior was the introduction of the Kindle e-reader in 2007, along with an entire store consisting of millions of e-books to be read on Kindle devices. Since 2007, Amazon has launched a full line of e-readers and e-books that have helped set them apart and make them competitive with their rival Barnes-and-Noble which boasts the Nook e-reader, a similar device.
Given that the Kindle is one of the most remarkable pieces of technology that exists today, I would be remiss not to elaborate on its intricacies. Amazon truly knew what they were doing when they launched this device. The Kindle has evolved a lot over the years, but even the original was impressive. It solved the problem of the sun’s glare coming off of the screen by using what is called e-ink electronic paper, which gives a matte appearance similar to a newspaper. Kindle introduced new ideas like text-to-speech in later generations, and then jumped on the tablet bandwagon with the kindle fire in 2011. The Kindle fire has a multi-touch screen and is similar in use to an iPad. It provides all of the same e-book capabilities, but adds the ability to download apps from the Google Play store, and it is able to browse the internet much like competing tablets can. Amazon has also gotten involved recently in the world of cloud computing, and as I previously mentioned, they have hopped on the latest technological trend of streaming movies and TV shows with their Amazon Instant Video Service.
Amazon has been expanding since the moment it was created, and they aren’t stopping now. Amazon.com plans to extend its reach to include both websites and distribution centers located in Poland, The Netherlands, and Sweden. They also are planning to expand their inventory even more, and by the end of this year they are going to have a wider selection of beauty, apparel, healthcare, and home essential products. Slowly but surely, Amazon is becoming a one-stop shop!
Amazon’s long range impact on the market will be good for them, and probably not to great for their competitors. Amazon is growing exponentially at this point, and it looks like the trends are continuing. The fact that Amazon markets both digital goods as well as physical items truly gives them a unique market. Sure, online ordering exists for most companies these days, but Amazon has mastered the art of selling items that aren’t actually physically there, like e-books for instance. They also hold a lot of promise for creating new, innovative devices that keep up with Apple and Android products, and with their expanding section of mobile phones, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them get into the business of cellular phones.
Amazon lists their mission statement as “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices” and they seem to be doing just that. As technology grows, it is likely that Amazon will grow too. Jeff Bezos created it in his garage, and now it’s got a whopping 30 million regular customers, and all in less than twenty years. This is Amazon.com.
Earth’s most consumer-centric company
By Katie McKinney-Musselwhite
THE BIG PICTURE
• International electronic commerce
• Online bookstore
• Cloud computing
• Kindle e-books
IN THE BEGINNING…
• 1994, Seattle, Washington
• “Cadabra” to “Amazon”
• Diversification of inventory
Jeff Bezos- founder, president, and CEO
THE RISE TO THE TOP
• Slow growing
• 21st century boom
• Business partnerships
• Kindle e-readers and e-books
• Expand to Poland, The Netherlands,
• Beauty, apparel, healthcare, and
LONG RANGE IMPACT
• Outdoing competitors
• Digital and tangible
• New devices
• Spiro, Josh. "The Great Leaders Series: Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com".
Inc.com. Retrieved November 29th, 2013.
• Robert Spector (2002). Amazon.com: Get Big Fast. Retrieved Novermber 29th,
• Shah, Semil. “The Future of Amazon: Ambitious, Diverse, And Expansive”.
Retrieved November 29th, 2013.
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