FROM BOOKSTORE TO SUPERSTORE
Can you believe that a little more than two decades ago, Amazon was still one man, a light bulb idea and a home garage?
Circa 1994, Jeff Bezos began working on a business plan (yes, in his garage) for what would eventually become the largest internet retailer in the US. In 1995, the company made its official debut.
In those early days, Bezos and his employees would pack books and bring them to the post office themselves, and even after the company began to build warehouses and acquire more assets, many investors still wrote them off as another dot-com pipedream. Of course, even Bezos couldn’t have mapped out every twist and turn, as our selection of key turning points in Amazon’s journey from garage to the globe proves.
Jeff Bezos launched Amazon as an online bookstore, and strategically chose Seattle, Washington as the home base location. Due to Washington’s lack of sales tax, it allowed Amazon to sell nearly all over without having to collect sales tax from its customers. Bezos finally made the decision to go with “Amazon”, named after the largest river in the world (his goal was to lead the company to become the largest bookstore in the world.) He thought of the idea while looking through the dictionary, specifically targeting names that began with “A” as he believed it would give the company the advantage of being listed higher in alphabetized lists. Amazon moved into a whole new area of business as it began to allow third-party sellers to move merchandise through the site.
In terms of revenue, Amazon is the biggest internet-based company in the world. When it started out selling books online in 1994, Jeff Bezos had an idea that the best way to succeed online was to grow big and fast. Today, the company sells everything from books to groceries to shipping container houses. It has become a one-stop-shop and has many ambitions for its future.
Amazon was not the first company to hit on this business strategy. Another company, Computer Literacy (a Silicon Valley bookstore) began selling its own wares online as early as 1991.
The difference that Amazon.com had to offer was its greater convenience. It, from the off, was based on a model of delivering online orders directly to the customer's address anywhere in the world.
As we all know now, Amazon.com is about a lot more than just books today. This was always the plan, according to Bezos. During an earnings call in 2005, Jeff Bezos announced a customer loyalty program that offered free two-day shipping on any order, along with other perks and benefits for only $79 per year. Prime has proved to be a massive success: it now has more than 112 million members across the globe. Amazon had been developing the Echo (and Alexa capabilities) since 2011, and finally began selling the devices in June 2015. The idea of an in-home virtual assistant was novel and exciting for many, but few realized just how big it would become in such a short time.
No organisation has escaped the worldwide impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, but few have been such prominent players as Amazon.