What Amazon’s bold moves in the marketplace can teach you

First, there was Amazon

Although founder Jeff Bezos always intended for Amazon to sell everything, he started with books. Once the technology infrastructure was in place, Amazon began to collect customer data and lots of it. Amazon team members became experts at analyzing it, and used it to create personalized product recommendations and email marketing.

After successfully taking over many retail markets, Amazon now has its sights set on the business-to-business world.

Now, there is AmazonSupply

Like me, an avid Amazon purchaser, you may not have heard of AmazonSupply, Amazon’s “beta” site that quietly launched two years ago dedicated to selling supplies to businesses.

Combined with its Web Services division and its lower product costs, Amazon is positioning itself to be the premier supplier to businesses, offering a comprehensive program to reduce costs across a business’ whole supply chain. AmazonSupply’s website boldly declares that its goal is: “To supply everything needed to rebuild civilization. Ambiguous? Absolutely. We are trail-blazers who yield no limits. We have just begun.”

Trailblazing the Amazon way

Even if Amazon or AmazonSupply doesn’t directly target you, someone else, somewhere in the world will. Here is my take on what makes Amazon successful at disrupting, and then dominating markets:

1.      Team members love disruption and even disrupt their own businesses.

2.      They are expert at imagining what their customers will want in the future and how they will want to buy it.

3.      They have the courage to make bold, smart investments to capture a leadership position in new markets.

4.      They intensely focus on their customers’ experience.

5.      They establish emotional relationships with their customers and shareholders.

6.      Technology is the backbone of the business, and they use it strategically.

7.      They love customer-specific data and are experts at collecting, analyzing and using it.

8.      They hire big thinkers and challenge them relentlessly.

9.      They manage cash flow instead of profits.

10.     They accept (maybe even like) that they will create some enemies.

11.     They accept that their hard-driving, cost-conscious culture results in high employee turnover.

12.     Their CEO is ambitious, relentless, a micromanager, dedicated to his customers and a brilliant visionary who loves conflict.

Like it or not, aggressive and creative companies like Amazon are using technology and propelling change at an ever increasing rate. The disruption that they create is ongoing and guaranteed to affect you at some point. Whether or not AmazonSupply directly affects you, you must continually reinvent and improve your business or risk being left behind.

If you have been complacent about innovation or investing in new capabilities, you need to start now or risk being the next travel agency or book store. Study Amazon. What can you learn from it?