Unless you have been living under a rock this last 20 years or so, without a laptop and a wifi connection, then you can’t but fail to have noticed the impact Amazon has had on the business world. With its finger in nearly every proverbial pie, from eCommerce to food delivery, many smaller businesses are facing failure as they lose consumers to the online giant.
Should you be a business owner yourself, you have a reason to fear this multiplatform behemoth. In terms of its market value of $797 billion, according to a report in January 2019 by CNBC, Amazon is now the largest company in the world, overtaking both Microsoft and Apple. In comparison, consider your market value. How does your business hold up?
While Amazon has steamrollered its way into the hearts and minds of consumers around the world, you shouldn’t give up as a business owner. Rather than fearing the impact the company has on your business, you should learn from them instead. While you might never match Amazon’s market value (though never say never), you can still increase your chances of survivability if you do what Amazon does well. Although, for the purposes of this article, we are also going to look at something that Amazon doesn’t do well, which again, you need to pay attention to when it comes to your business.
Without further ado, here are the business lessons you can learn from Amazon.
Lesson #1: Out of little acorns, mighty oak trees grow
Amazon wasn’t always the company we know and love (or possibly hate if you’re in business). When Jeff Bezos first launched his company in 1995 from his home garage space, it started out as a humble eCommerce site for book buyers. But Jeff Bezos had big ideas, with plans from the very beginning to maximise the potential of the so-called internet revolution. Three years later in 1998, his company went on to sell CDs and then diversified into a vast array of other products that today includes nearly every marketable item.
The takeaway for you is this. No matter how small, you can grow your business into something bigger and better than it might be at the moment. It’s about looking at what people want and staying in line with modern trends. While you might not be the next Jeff Bezos, you can still make inroads within your industry if you work hard enough, so no matter how small your business is, you can still follow the example of Bezos and think big for your business. Who knows what your market value will be years down the line if you can find ways to scale your business.
Lesson #2: Your employees matter
Remember we alluded to the fact that Amazon doesn’t get everything right? As has been widely publicised in the media, Amazon’s treatment of its employees is shocking. With long working shifts and with unrealistic demands of its workers with tight picking and packing targets, many of Amazon’s employees are becoming burned out by the strenuous conditions imposed upon them. No wonder their productivity is low, and, according to one website, employees face the sack if they don’t perform as they should. Amazon also has a high turnover of employees, and while this is partly down to the high firing rate, it is also due to resignations by those not willing to be treated like mindless worker drones!
Amazon has received bad press about the way they treat their employees, but thanks to their size and popularity, this hasn’t hurt their profits too badly. However, as a business owner, you have a moral and ethical duty of care for your employees, so don’t treat them as badly. You might lose employee retention if you do, and that, as well as the bad reputation you will receive from the press and public at large, could bring down your business. So, make every effort to support your employees. This includes finding ways to enhance picking and packing efficiencies if you have warehouse staff, and doing more to improve the work-life balance of your employees, so they don’t become exhausted. Amazon does a lot of things right, but in this one aspect, your business can do better than the online Goliath.
Lesson #3: Give your customers what they want
While Amazon reportedly fails in giving employees what they want, Amazon has a better track record with its customers. They have constantly strived to make life easier for them, offering next day delivery, free shipping, and guaranteed return policies. They use complicated algorithms on their site to personalise the customer experience. And after discovering that longer webpage loading times affected sales, they made every effort to optimise their website to please their customers.
Amazon knows what their customers want because they provide options for feedback on their website. They are keen to know how well they are doing so they can improve their services and make life better for their customers. And they do this, not only to show kindness to the consumer but to ensure they stay competitive and ahead of their nearest business rivals.
Ask yourself then. Are you giving your customers what they want? Could you do more to improve your service and website? Find ways to collect customer feedback, and then take action, making the necessary changes to your business to better satisfy your customers. You might consider free shipping, for example, or you might change your return policy. When you cater to the needs and wishes of your customer, they are more likely to be loyal to your business, and less likely to use the services of your competition, including Amazon.
Amazon rises over the business world, casting a shadow on the little businesses operating beneath. However, there is still much you can do to improve your business so you don’t get crushed underfoot by the online giant, so learn from the lessons we have given you today, and then take time out to consider what else Amazon does, for better or for worse. You can then apply the lessons learned to your business.
Thanks for reading.