“The Amazon Economy” – a look at the latest from the FT’s eBook series

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In this compilation of articles and insights, a selection of writers from the Financial Times examine the inner workings of one of the most influential companies in existence.

In the space of nine articles, The Amazon Economy touches on subjects ranging from disputes with publishers through to warehouse management techniques. The eBook is scattered with interesting statistics and anecdotes about the functioning of the company and considers a few of the less discussed aspects of the corporation, including its valuation.

Continuous Evolution

Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon in 1994, sought inspiration from Toyota’s concept of continuous improvement to build the world’s largest online retailer. By focusing on logistics, inventories and fine tuning prices, Amazon was transformed from a simple online bookshop to the lean, efficient powerhouse which has become synonymous with ecommerce.

One example of the company’s approach to business is the way in which it handles customer complaints. Bezos believes the pinnacle of customer service should not require the consumer to interact with anyone at the company. In his words; “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” This also drastically reduces the need for staff and keeps costs down.

To minimise the need for customer support, Amazon investigates every complaint and seeks out the root of the problem. This highly pragmatic approach has resulted in a steady reduction in consumer complaints. This example also serves to highlight the difference between Amazon and some of its Silicon Valley based peers. Whereas Google is happy for its employees to dedicate a certain amount of time to creative side projects, Amazon concentrates on frugal, data driven projects.

Disrupting Markets and Creating Trends

The Amazon Economy reveals a number of insights into a company that has managed to keep growing and evolving in time with the needs of consumers.  Since its beginnings as a virtual bookshop, Amazon has gone on to revolutionise the world of publishing, first via its distribution model and later through the launch of the Kindle. The newer Kindle Fire may well do the same for video content. This collection provides a glimpse into Amazon’s future, cloud computing-fuelled, plans and more importantly, into the mind of Bezos.

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