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Say what you will about the billionaire founder of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos, who is said to routinely berate and belittle employees and has created a corporate climate rife with cutthroat competition. One thing you can’t say, though, is that the business he created is not one of the most dynamic and successful corporations in existence today. Whereas many companies seem to be caught forever behind the curve of innovation, Amazon routinely paves new paths, creating not only better ways to do business, but creating entirely new products and practices.
5 Amazon Prime
The brilliance behind Amazon’s enhanced subscription service known as Amazon Prime is that it is entirely pointless beyond catering to the need for instant (or at least very fast) gratification. For $79 a year, customers are guaranteed free two-day shipping on many items and offered access to a library of thousands of movies and TV shows they can watch online. What does it cost Amazon to offer these titles? Not much; a bit of bandwidth and server space. And how much are people saving on their shipping? Not much, unless they place many orders per year.
4 Amazon Fresh
While the concept of personalized, same-day delivery grocery services is not unique to Amazon.com (the concept has already been used by companies such as Fresh Direct), what Amazon Fresh has over its precursors is near-total brand recognition. People already trust Amazon to deliver their DVDs, sweaters and toasters, thus the pivot to ordering fresh fruits and cold cuts is easier to stomach than is trusting an unknown company. Amazon Fresh is currently available in just two markets, Los Angeles and Seattle, but the company clearly has much bigger plans for its food delivery program.
3 Amazon Studios
Riding on the coattails of other innovative companies such as Netflix, the media distribution platform that is becoming a powerhouse production company, Amazon decided to create their own original programming too, and they launched Amazon Studios in late 2010. What might be Amazon’s greatest innovation in this venture is the fact that they are bringing power to the people, as it were, by using feedback from the public in deciding which pilot programs they turn into full series.
2 Sunday Delivery
Just in the past few days, Amazon.com announced a long-rumored new agreement with one of the oldest, most venerable organizations around, the United States Postal Service. Amazon and the USPS are teaming up to begin offering something that, until now, has only been available to those willing to pay top dollar for special service: deliveries on Sundays. The new Sunday package delivery agreement will start right away in several large markets, such as LA and NYC, and will gradually expand to other metro areas over the course of 2014.
1 Amazon is Flush With Cash
All the innovations we have discussed today are apparently working very well. Amazon.com recently announced that their third quarter sales for 2013 had improved nearly 25% over previous quarters. The company made just shy of $18 billion in that three month period, compared with less than $14 billion from the same period in 2012. The company is set to hire as many as 70,000 seasonal employees to help with the rush of holiday purchasing, so evidently they are confident their success will continue.