UPDATE 2019: Don't miss this CNN documentary, "The Age of Amazon"
This  video transcript with the interview of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos by the CBS news programme 60 Minutes should be an obligatory part of the curriculum in business schools, worldwide.
If you wish to ensure the success of your own e-Business venture, or discover how to craft effective Digital Marketing strategies, pay close attention to the hard-won wisdom of this 21st Century Carnegie.
Here are some of the most important insights, which we hope will be useful:
Long-term Planning and Patience
Jeff Bezos exhibits the wisdom of millennial cultures, whilst competing in a frenetic, adrenaline-addicted business climate. He is willing to wait 5-7 years to see results from a new project or product line, instead of falling prey to the pressures of immediate ROI.
A Clear Vision of His Company's DNA
The leader of Amazon is quite clear about what drives his company and its people. The "Big Ideas" that guide them are simple and powerful:
- Customer centricity
- A culture of pioneering and exploring
The first "Idea" has led him to establish 96 Fulfillment Centres around the world to be closer to his customers. It has also helped him to resist pressures to raise prices, a move he fears would "erode the trust" of his more than 225 million customers worldwide.
The other two guiding characteristics of Amazon have led him to approve ground-breaking projects such as Amazon Fashion, the creation of their own TV series ("Alpha House") and the idea of home delivery by decade's end via autonomous drones.
Continual Learning, Unconventional Thinking
Amazon profits are reinvested in the construction of new shipping hubs, which then helps the company lower shipping costs and speed up delivery times. To reach this goal, the company has refined their warehousing and fulfillment methodology seven times.
Out-of-the-Box Thinking based on a long-term vision has resulted in a pioneering system of stacking products according to their shape and other dimensions, rather than by categories. This has allowed Amazon to have more efficient warehousing and to optimise the product picking process.
Instead of caving into the pressures of our rush-rush culture based on instant gratification and results, Jeff Bezos and his team studied the pilot project of Amazon Fresh (grocery store deliveries) in Seattle for 5 years, before expanding the service to a second city, Los Angeles. San Francisco is now the third market for "Fresh".
Disruption and Paradigm Shifts
When asked about the fears of competitors in the book industry who shudder each time Amazon builds a new centre in their locale, Bezos comments: "Amazon is not 'happening' to bookselling;
The Future is happening to bookselling". In his eyes, Amazon itself will be "disrupted" at some point, made irrelevant by changing technologies and customer behaviours. In his words, it's "inevitable".
All of which are welcome, wise words that give us all a more balanced perspective for our own brands, companies and strategies. May we continue to learn, listening to our customers and thus, leading in the market. While at the same time remembering to maintain a long-term perspective.
Only that focus will allow for fresh thinking that challenges convention and leads to true innovation.
First published on this blog on 20 December 2013.
- 16 August 2019
- 04 March 2021