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Hey, What’s Amazon Up To These Days?

Hey, What’s Amazon Up To These Days?

The headline alone should tell you that we haven’t written a lot about Amazon and Amazon Business over first four months of 2018.

That doesn’t mean nothing has happened.

We will start with the annual shareholders’ letter Jeff Bezos wrote in late April.  This marks the 20th time Bezos has written his shareholders a letter. Practice must make perfect, because he’s pretty good at it.

It starts with the important part: the customer. You can’t ever accuse Amazon or Bezos of taking their eyes off being completely obsessed with customers. Not just current customers, but future customers, too (more on that later).

“The American Customer Satisfaction Index recently announced the results of its annual survey, and for the 8th year in a row, customers ranked Amazon #1.” That is not buried somewhere in the middle of the letter to shareholders. It’s the first sentence. No sense making readers wait to see how the company is doing in the eyes of the customer. Bezos put it right there at the top. And after mentioning similar honors in the U.K. and on LinkedIn, he added, “And just a few weeks ago, Harris Poll released its annual Reputation Quotient, which surveys over 25,000 consumers on a broad range of topics from workplace environment to social responsibility to products and services, and for the 3rd year in a row Amazon ranked #1.” We have written a number of times, both online and in print, about the need for value-added services, how to hire the next generation of your workforce, the importance of your partnerships, and how the economy will impact your job and business.

Bezos writes about the customer.

“One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up,” he wrote in the shareholder letter. No matter what it takes, you need to be as obsessed with the “divinely discontent” customer as Amazon. What will it take to ease that discontent? That’s your decision, but you should be making business decisions on the best needs of your customer. And by the way, we started a multiple-part series in tED magazine on your contractor customers in March of this year, and we will continue that coverage throughout 2018.

The shareholder letter has some other interesting mentions, including more than 100 million Prime members, which is also available to AmazonBusiness customers. As a rough estimate, Barron’s Magazine reports about 55% of all 126 million households in the United States has a Prime account. The shareholder letter also says more than 300,000 small-to-medium sized businesses started selling on Amazon in 2017, and how Amazon will begin pairing its Whole Food stores with the technology from its Alexa devices and its Amazon Go store.

Ad Week calls the shareholder’s letter “Another Wake Up Call For Brands”.

That doesn’t even take into account Amazon’s recent earnings report for the first quarter of 2018.  Earnings nearly doubled from the first quarter of last year, with the online giant taking in $51 billion in revenue in 90 days.  Amazon is expecting similar results for the second quarter, which briefly drove the company’s stock price over $1,600. Expansion is next, with Amazon announcing 2,000 people will be hired at the Boston Tech Hub to work on machine learning, cloud computing, and robotics engineering.

In all of this, there must be some bad news for Amazon. President Trump recently asked why the online giant was getting such a great deal from the U.S. Postal Service. While opinions vary on if the deal is good or not, and there are a lot of differing opinions, Bezos is taking them in stride. And, just last week, Democrat Bernie Sanders tweeted his anger that Amazon did not pay anything in Federal taxes for 2017. On April 25, he told an audience in Germany that he thinks, “All large institutions should be scrutinized or examined. It isn’t personal.”  Bezos added he would follow any new rules and find new ways to delight customers.

Those customers are getting younger and younger. Amazon just announced a “kid-friendly” Echo dot, which comes in a variety of colors and with parental controls. From a business perspective, why not get customers talking to and about Amazon at a young age? A satisfied 10-year-old customer is sure to join the 100 million other Prime members in just a few years.

When it comes to this supply chain, NAED put together a large research project on the impact of Amazon Business on our customers. The case study is now available on the NAED website and will be a topic for discussion at future NAED events, along with a series of articles in tED magazine. I will be sharing some of that information during a webinar hosted by NetSuite called “From B2C to B2B: Amazon’s Entry Into the B2B World.” I will be joined by Brian Beck, Senior Vice-President of E-Commerce and Omni-Channel Strategy for Guidance, a service provider that targets revenue growth for all businesses, and Colin Puckett, the Head of Seller Marketing for Amazon Business. We will be discussing the Amazon’s dive into B2B selling, along with the challenges distributors face with the new competition. The webinar is scheduled for May 16th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, 1:00 p.m. Central. You can get all of the details to register here.

That’s a look at Amazon’s recent past. The future is always interesting with Jeff Bezos. As the company continues its climb toward becoming “The Everything Store,” it will continue its customer focus and expansion. Where it expands is the next unanswered question.

Tagged with
Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

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