Amazon Is 21 But Still Disrupting

How amazing—Amazon has turned 21 years old!  What was once the ultimate underdog trying desperately to generate enough revenue to turn a meagre profit has grown up to have a market capitalization of $356 billion.  In the process, Amazon has developed a loyal customer base that trusts Amazon more than almost any other retailer!

Q. So how did they do it? A. By being the ultimate disrupter.

Here are some of the many innovations that Amazon brings to the marketplace:

  • One Click Shopping – this eliminates the need for customers to re-enter their information every time they buy, streamlining the purchase process.
  • Amazon Marketplace – by providing their platform to other retailers to sell products, they are able to provide more products to their customers without having to own the products while paying off their investment in technology through more uses.
  • Endless Aisle – the Amazon Marketplace made Amazon the go-to place for hard-to-find products. By stocking less popular products themselves and by providing the Marketplace platform for super specialist retailers, Amazon has become the endless aisle—against which bricks and mortar retailers cannot compete.
  • Automatic User Generated Ratings and Reviews – by encouraging their customers to share their experiences with products through ratings and reviews, Amazon is able to generate trust among customers. This has been very valuable as Amazon expands its reach into other areas. Customers trust Amazon to do it right.
  • Recommendations Based on Previous Purchases – This simple service encourages add on purchases and larger basket size among Amazon shoppers. Customers see it as a way to find out about products that they might not be aware of.
  • Dynamic Pricing – Amazon has always wanted to be the price leader and by tracking competitive pricing and changing prices throughout the day, Amazon is able to deliver the best prices on the internet. This is another innovation that is impossible for brick and mortar competitors to emulate because changing prices on a website multiple times during the day is possible but is impossible to do in a chain store environment.
  • Free Shipping – Amazon started this because they understood that shipping charges had become a major barrier that online retailers had to get over. Customers love the prices they get on the internet but hate to find their savings eroded or eliminated because they have to pay for shipping.

These are just a few of the many innovations that Amazon has brought to the retail world.  They may not have invented them but they sure popularized them.  Many of these have been imitated by other retailers and have become a standard for the industry, but consumers understand that Amazon led the way.

Amazon launched in Canada in a big way by opening their first fulfillment centre in 2011 and providing Canadians with  While the company does not report revenues for Canada separately from their North American region, it is estimated that sales are approximately $2.5 billion making it the largest online retailer in Canada by far.

Amazon continues to innovate and disrupt.  We look forward to the next 20+ years.   I’m not sure their competition does!

Written by: Maureen Atkinson, Senior Partner, Research Insights at J.C. Williams Group. This article was originally published on Marketing Magazine.


  1. You missed one biggie: creating a multifaceted platform. All of the elements you mentioned were further built into a platform, just as Microsoft figured out to bundle software (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) allowed them to provide a “good enough” offering that was cheaper and just as functional as buying individual software programs by the then leaders (WordPerfect, Lotus 123, Dbase, etc.).

    It’s not just free shipping. Amazon Prime and everything that is bundled into further intertwines and extends the relationship they have with customers, and furthers the belief that whatever they buy is the best/best price, whether or not it’s true. More importantly, the platform “simplifies” their wallet/life and increases Amazon’s share of wallet.

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