TREND.Read: One Click – Jeff Bezos and the rise of amazon.com

TRENDAFRiCA November 2, 2012

One Click – Jeff Bezos and the rise of amazon.com

By Richard L. Brandt
Published by Penguin Portfolio
Reviewed by Louise Marsland

Everyone knows by now that Amazon has transformed not only publishing, but also retailing and customer service.

Amazon.com is a much quoted case study at conferences and business schools these days and much of its success, like that of Apple with Steve Jobs, hinges on its founder, Jeff Bezos.

It is one of the oldest online businesses, launching in 1994, and one of the most durable, having faced off its “crash” in 1999. Amazon was the biggest money-loser of all the internet companies which went bang in the dotcom crash of the early noughties.

The company had grown too fast and became unwieldy and inefficient.

Bezos himself said at the time that he went from “internet poster boy” to “internet whipping boy”.

Bezos, whose mantra had been “Get big fast”, now went to talking about profit. Within two years he had turned the company from losses of almost $2 billion, to modest profits in 2002 and the company has gone from strength to strength, expanding and closing deals left, right and centre.

As Bezos says: “The thing about inventing is you have to be both stubborn and flexible, more or less simultaneously. Of course, the hard part is figuring out when to be which!”

The business model is simple and Amazon hasn’t had it all easy either, learning through trial and error how to sell and deliver books online throughout the globe.

The model is about making online shopping as easy as ‘one click’ for customers.

The book blurb bills Amazon as “a case study in how to reinvent an entire industry”. And it should be required reading for anyone in business, no matter how ‘safe’ you think your industry is. Digital integration and online channels – like social media – for example, is transforming all business.

This book is a great, easy read with lots of anecdotes and a clinical dissection of Bezos’ business style and the “sweatshop” that Amazon was in the early days.

What Amazon does next is also very important. Bezos has bet on the Kindle, as he says: “Books have had a great 500 year run” and it’s now time for change.

All well and good, I’ll take the business lessons to heart about change in particular, but I’m still not getting rid of my bookshelves or my paperbacks!

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