Amazon is a Fortune 500 American e-commerce company. It is the largest online electronic retailer in America. Its revenues are triple those of its nearest competitor Staples Inc. Founded in 1994 by Jeffrey Bezos, it’s world headquarters are in Seattle, Washington. Amazon serves a worldwide audience. Its website was launched in 1995 and is available in English, Chinese, French, German and Japanese. These are separate websites but the business model is the same. Amazon websites get around 615 million visitors annually according to a survey by complete.com
Amazon began as an online bookstore. This gave it the advantage of having more titles than the traditional brick-and-mortar stores. It has since grown way beyond this to sell all kinds of products. It had a slow growth from its IPO in 1997 sparking complaints from investors. Following the dot com bubble bust, many internet companies that had experienced dizzying growth went under. Amazon remained and eventually made a $ 5 million profit in the last quarter of 2001. The next year it turned in a profit of $ 3.9 billion. In December 2008 Amazon replaced Merrill Lynch on the S&P 100 after it was taken over by Bank of America. Amazon is credited with popularizing online shopping. For its contribution to the world of ecommerce, Jeffrey Bezos was named Time magazine’s person of the year in 1999.
From book selling roots, Amazon has branched into clothing, gourmet food, watches, jewelry, baby products and apparel, beauty products, sporting goods, music CD’s, DVD’s, video tapes, home appliances and electronics and so much more. Its love affair with readables is far from over. One of its products Amazon Shorts launched in 2005 sells short stories and non fiction stories from best selling authors by download.
To facilitate seamless shipping of goods bought on its site Amazon Prime was launched. This offers unlimited shipping for a flat rate fee paid annually. This programme was launched in the US in 2005 and has since expanded to cover Japan, France, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Amazon also experimented with online auctioning forging an unsuccessful partnership with Sotheby’s but was unable to break eBay’s stranglehold on this area. However, out of this Amazon launched Amazon Marketplace; a hugely successful service that allows customers to sell used CD’s, books, DVD’s and other products. Amazon marketplace also sells new items.
Under the label “Pinzon” Amazon sells a wide variety of house hold goods, footwear, paints, hair accessories and many other products.
Amazon has launched an online music store selling music in the MP3 format known as Amazon MP3. This music is downloadable features music from the big four music recording companies EMI, Universal Warner Bros and Sony BMG.
AmazonFresh is an online grocery service offering both perishables and non perishable food. The orders are delivered to the customer’s home at dawn or at a specified day time. This service mainly operates in several area codes of Seattle.
More recently Amazon has spread its tentacles into film production. In 2008 it funded the production of The Stolen Child in partnership with 20th Century Fox.
The future outlook for Amazon is relatively bright. Hopefully it will maintain its growth as the years pass on. However as is the case with retail companies, harsh economic times will always eat into profit margins.