1995 was the year Amazon.com sold it’s first book. For your own dinner party trivia, that book was Douglas Hofstadter’s Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought (I don’t know who the first customer was, but the book title certainly makes you wonder?)
We all watched and wondered if Amazon could make any money? For years it didn’t! Not until the fourth quarter of 2001: $5 million, on revenues of more than $1 billion. Today Amazon.com is the world’s largest online retailer. It’s 2012 revenue was $61.1B and first quarter revenue for 2013 was $16.1B, 21.9% higher than the previous year’s first quarter.
It’s most recent move is a game changer. Having added to the initial offering of books, we’re all aware that you can buy (depending on the market you’re situated in) everything and almost anything from DVDs, CDs, video and MP3 downloads/streaming, software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, toys, and jewelry. Amazon is now moving into groceries, starting in Los Angeles and Seattle, with a service called AmazonFresh. It’s a game changer because, as TheAtlantic points out….
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has already trained Wall Street to expect that little he does will turn a profit for years, so don’t expect Prime Fresh to make much money. At least for now. This move continues Amazon’s assault on retail, where even giants like WalMart and Costco have announced that online grocery delivery is a nearly impossible business. Amazon’s message is: Impossible for you, maybe…
If Amazon gets this right, the other grocery giants may be in a large amount of trouble.
If Amazon can send me stuff overnight for free without a distribution center nearby, it’s not hard to guess what it can do once it has lots of warehouses within driving distance of my house. Instead of surprising me by getting something to me the next day, I suspect that, over the next few years, next-day service will become its default shipping method on most of its items … Getting something shipped to your house offers gratification that’s even more instant: Order something in the morning and get it later in the day, without doing anything else. Why would you ever shop anywhere else?
I love stories like this, simply because they do change the game. It’s a story about looking at the status quo and challenging it. It’s about innovation and creativity, and when you begin to do what others thought was impossible, and eventually get it right, you make the world a different place.