How Jeff Bezos Conquered Retail
And what Startup Founders can learn from him
It’s a good question. Why did Jeff Bezos think that books would sell well on the Internet? After all, this was long before e-readers, before the Kindle or iPad.
On the other hand, book buyers were already using computers to search for books and research prices. Bezos knew that customers buying books online were already in the habit of doing research and checking bookstores for prices.
With this in mind, he launched Amazon in 1995 with a vision of making it easier for people to buy and sell products online.
He started with just four employees and an initial investment of $10 million.
In less than two decades, Amazon has become one of the largest Internet companies in the world with more than 63,000 employees globally and a market capitalization of $98 billion. It also made Jeff Bezos a billionaire many times over.
A Good First Step
Amazon’s first product was a book seller, but it wasn’t long before the company added video games, music and electronics to its product line. It also created a software development kit (SDK) that developers can use to create applications for the Kindle and other Amazon devices. Amazon has also expanded outside of the U.S. with websites for other countries like France, Germany, Canada and the UK. Additionally, it has expanded its business into selling industrial products like mechanical parts as well as apparel.
The company is growing in leaps and bounds despite what some critics say about being anti-union or not paying enough taxes. Its CEO even launched a venture capital group called Bezos Expeditions that invests in companies like Twitter, Airbnb, Business Insider and Workday among many others. What does Jeff Bezos think of his success? He says he doesn’t think his success is “particularly special or unique” but rather was made possible by “the structure of the internet economy and how early I was able to get into it.”
No doubt the Internet has been key to his success.
The “network effect” allows customers to find more products and allows retailers to reach more customers.
And with Amazon’s large selection of products, customers are finding it hard not to shop at Amazon. Amazon is also building a loyal customer base by offering free shipping and other discounts. In fact, it seems that the more Amazon does to cut costs, the more customers it attracts.
How Can Startup Founders Apply This To Their Business?
Bezos knew what people wanted from a bookstore even before they had ever set foot in one. He is constantly asking questions like, “How can we make it easier and cheaper for people to buy what they want?”
To do this, Bezos focuses on his customer’s needs.
He imagines what the customer is thinking and what he or she will want in the future. This way, he’s able to stay ahead of his competition.
Bezos makes a point of asking lots of questions and studying customers to see how they interact with an Amazon product. For example, when Amazon first started selling books online, Bezos made a point of visiting bookstores to get a sense for the experience of browsing for books. From there, he looked at how other online booksellers were doing things and implemented a few changes based on his observations.
Amazon also makes it easy for customers to have a good experience at their site by providing excellent customer service.
This includes having someone always available by phone or email should you need help or have questions about an order. It also means making sure that all products are of high quality so you know that when you buy from Amazon you’re getting a great product shipped to you in a timely manner at an affordable price with no hassle involved.
So, if you want to be like Jeff Bezos, ask yourself what the customer really wants.
Don’t focus on what you want to sell or how you want to do it. Instead, think about how the customer can benefit from it.
Ask questions and imagine yourself in the customer’s shoes. You’ll be surprised by what you find out and how it can help your business.
About the Author
I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.
You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.