In the fast-growing world of
e-commerce, there's Amazon and then there’s everyone else. The Seattle-based company, which Jeff
Bezos launched as “Earth’s Biggest Bookstore”
in 1995, has become a digital innovator
virtually no industry untouched. In addition to all the stuff it will deliver
to your door, Amazon is now a leader in cloud services, publishing, payments,
Through Amazon Marketplace, it’s also created a vast village green
where users can buy and sell items without ever leaving the site. With Amazon
Home Services, people can now find babysitters, tutors, and 900 other services as well. It’s this breadth that has inspired
customer loyalty that’s unparalleled
among major retailers and increased Amazon’s brand value 29 percent, to USD $37.9 billion, in this year’s Best Global Brands ranking.
This all stems from Bezos’ vision for creating what he calls
the “world's most
consumer-centric company.” And nothing captures that vision
quite like Amazon Prime. What began as a loyalty program, offering members free
two-day shipping on select products, has expanded to include services like
streaming video, music, cloud storage, and an e-book lending library—and Amazon continues to test and
launch new services including Prime Pantry and Prime Now.
Prime hit fever pitch during its July
2015 event, Prime Day. This highly successful marketing ploy helped the brand
beat its record 2014 Black Friday sales, exponentially increasing traffic, and,
most importantly, customer acquisition, with some hundreds of thousands signing
up to take advantage of the day’s bargains. It even benefited competitors like Walmart,
which took advantage of the flood of online shoppers by announcing its own
sale. While Amazon doesn’t disclose its
Prime membership status, RBC Capital Markets estimates the number is around 50
million in the U.S. and up to 80 million worldwide. The bulk of those members
spend at least $800 per year on the site.
In July, the Wall Street Journal
reported that Amazon, known for sacrificing
short-term profits in order to pursue long-term investments, had posted
"surprising profits,” crediting operational efficiencies
and even the use of robotics to lower costs.
With new innovations like the
hands-free, always ready Amazon Echo and
the Dash Button that reorders frequently used
consumables with the touch of a button, a move into meal delivery, and an
ever-expanding roster of streamed content, there doesn’t seem much that Amazon isn’t poised to take on.