Today, Amazon generates more than $61 billion in revenue, according to Fundable. It’s the world’s largest online retailer, which definitely explains why it’s a go-to for convenient shopping — so much so that many department stores and chains have been left behind in its wake.
Amazon didn’t start out as the retail giant it is today, but even back in 1994, its founder, Jeff Bezos, saw the potential for this business plan to work in the digital space.
Online Shopping: From Idea To Reality
Speaking to students at Princeton, Bezos said he decided to start this business came after learning how quickly the demand for the internet was growing. “The wake-up call was finding this startling statistic that web usage in the spring of 1994 was growing at 2,300 percent a year. You know, things just don’t grow that fast. It’s highly unusual, and that started me about thinking, ‘What kind of business plan might make sense in the context of that growth?’”
From there, he quit his job on Wall Street and pitched the idea of starting an online retail business to his parents. He decided he’d start by selling books, due to their cost and demand. His father’s first question, according to Brad Stone’s 2013 book “The Everything Store,” was, “What do you mean, you are going to sell books over the internet?”
Despite his parents’ skepticism, they eventually agreed to invest in their son’s dream, putting in a total of $245,573, which they’d saved over the years, Business Insider reported.
Now that he had the seed money, it was time to get the business up and running. He created the website and sold books out of his garage in Washington, making his first sale in July of 1995. The company grew from there.
Of course, Amazon has grown from just selling books to being a go-to for pretty much anything you’d need. In 2005, it branched out to include services such as Amazon Prime, which gives access to free 2-day shipping on eligible items. And with an eMarketer forecast predicting that more than half of all households in America will have Amazon Prime memberships in 2019, Bezos is creating a whole new definition of what it means to be a household brand.
Amazon’s success can largely be attributed to Bezos getting into online shopping early, but the company also pays close attention to the customer. Under the category of “customer obsession” in Amazon’s Leadership Principles, the retailer states that “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”
It’s a fast-paced business, and Bezos developed his understanding of the importance of maintaining focus when things got hectic while working at McDonald’s as a teenager. “The most challenging thing was keeping everything going at the right pace during a rush. The manager at my McDonald’s was excellent. He had a lot of teenagers working for him, and he kept us focused even while we had fun,” he told Cody Teets, vice president of McDonald’s, about his job at the Golden Arches in an interview for her book “Golden Opportunity: Remarkable Careers That Began at McDonald’s,” Business Insider reported.
Clearly, his ability to focus much of his attention on the customer has served him well.
Amazon In 2019
Amazon only seems to get bigger with each passing year, and that includes the quickly approaching Prime Day event, which is happening July 15 and 16 this year. The annual sale has become as popular as Black Friday and Cyber Monday and features many must-have deals for Amazon Prime subscribers. Amazon sold more than 100 million items during Prime Day in 2018.
This huge event hasn’t been around long. It kicked off in 2015 to celebrate Amazon’s 20th anniversary. At the time, it was a one-day event, and it has only expanded since then.
With access to Prime Pantry, Prime Video and more, Prime memberships have become more valuable (and more expensive) than ever before. If you’re not already a member, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial today to finally see what all of the fuss is about, even if you don’t plan to go big and buy a 4K television during Prime Day.