THE NEW E-TAIL GIANT: AMAZON

by Terri Fisher

Am•a•zon, (noun). A member of a legendary race of female warriors believed by the ancient Greeks to exist in Scythia (near the Black Sea in Modern Russia) or elsewhere on the edge of the known world. The Amazons had a matriarchal society in which women fought and governed while men performed the household tasks.

Utopia? Maybe, but the only thing Amazon, the new e-tail giant, and the legendary female warriors have in common is GIANT and WARRIORS.

Sales for the full year 2016 rose a whopping 27% to $136 billion from $107 billion in 2015. That’s Billion with a “B.” They also managed to operate in the black for the year, earning $2.37 billion for the year. The company is winning for many, many reasons, one of them being my favorite: Prime Membership. It keeps giving its millions of Prime members MORE. CEO Jeff Bezos told investors that Amazon’s Prime customer obsession “kept them busy” in 2016. “Prime members can now choose from over 50 million items with free two-day shipping – up 73% since 2015,” he said. Bezos noted that “tens of millions” of new paid members joined the $99-a-year program in 2016.

Besides the impressive sales figures, the stock price was up more than 300% in the past five years. No, I did not jump on that one in time…

Three major initiatives, among many, drive Amazon today: Prime membership, an incursion into brick-and-mortar stores (something the company has long resisted), and an obsessive rethinking of logistics including a new fulfillment center outside Seattle that features high-tech robots working alongside human workers in a “factory of the future.” Amazon’s founding idea was that digital commerce would radically reshape our marketplace. And boy did it!

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