Amazon – named after the world’s largest river – continually took shopping convenience to newer levels.
Before Amazon’s founding on 5 July 1994, shoppers had to travel to stores to discover and buy things. Shopping used to be hard work – wandering down multiple aisles in search of a desired item, dealing with crying and nagging kids, and waiting in long checkout lines. Today, stores try to reach out to shoppers anywhere, anytime and through multiple channels and devices.
After first experiencing two-day free shipping from Amazon’s Prime membership programme, shoppers started expecting no less from every online retailer. An estimated 142 million shoppers in the U.S. have Amazon Prime.
Amazon has also been a factor in the rising closures of brick-and-mortar stores that can’t keep pace with the changes in retail. Even before the pandemic, stores were closing at a phenomenal rate, with analysts predicting a coming “retail apocalypse.” Amazon benefited enormously last year as much of the U.S. went into lockdown and more consumers preferred ordering goods online rather than risking their health by going to physical stores.
In fact, Amazon is testing anticipatory shipping, a practice in which it anticipates what shoppers need and mails the items before shoppers order them. Shoppers can keep the items they like and return those they don’t want at no charge. It is also betting on cashier-free stores and AI-powered home robots.
Amazon’s future success will depend on how the incoming CEO – current head of cloud computing Andy Jassy – navigates these new technologies while pushing the company into more industries, such as health care and financial services.
His challenge is to keep Bezos’ legacy and Amazon’s disruptive culture alive.
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