Amazon announced Jeff Bezos is stepping down as CEO almost 27 years after he founded the corporate to sell books to customers over dial-up modems.

Amazon wasn’t the first bookstore to sell online, however it desired to be “Earth’s biggest.” When it first launched, a bell would ring in the corporate’s Seattle headquarters each time an order was placed. Within weeks, the bell was ringing so regularly employees needed to turn it off.

But Bezos – who will remain at the corporate – set his sights on making it an “every little thing store.” After achieving dominance in retail, the corporate would go on to develop into a sprawling and powerful global conglomerate in quite a few lines of business.

Today, Amazon is the third-most precious U.S. company – behind Apple and Microsoft – with a market capitalization of around US$1.7 trillion, greater than the gross domestic product of all but a dozen or so countries.

Here’s how Bezos reshaped retailing.

Redefining retail

Amazon – named after the world’s largest river – continually took shopping convenience to newer levels.

Before Amazon’s founding on July 5, 1994, shoppers needed to travel to stores to find and buy things. Shopping was labor – wandering down multiple aisles seeking a desired item, coping with crying and nagging kids, and waiting in long checkout lines. Today, stores try to achieve out to shoppers anywhere, anytime and thru multiple channels and devices.

After first experiencing two-day free shipping from Amazon’s Prime membership program, shoppers began expecting no less from every online retailer. An estimated 142 million shoppers within the U.S. have Amazon Prime.

The company made shopping more convenient through features like one-click ordering; personalized recommendations; package pickup at Amazon hubs and lockers; ordering products with the only touch of a Dash button; and in-home delivery with Amazon Key.

Shoppers may seek for and order items through an easy voice command to an Echo or by clicking an Instagram or Pinterest image. Amazon even has a cashier-less “Go” store in Seattle.

Amazon has also been a think about the rising closures of brick-and-mortar stores that may’t keep pace with the changes in retail. Even before the pandemic, stores were closing at an outstanding rate, with analysts predicting a coming “retail apocalypse.” Amazon benefited enormously last yr as much of the U.S. went into lockdown and more consumers preferred ordering goods online slightly than risking their health by going to physical stores.

Amazon’s share price has almost doubled because the lockdown began in March 2020, at the same time as over 11,000 retail stores closed their doors.

A serious employer

Amazon’s impact extends to other industries, including smart consumer devices like Alexa, cloud services like Amazon Web Services and technology products like drones.

Such is Amazon’s impact that industry players and observers use the term “Amazoned” to explain their business model and operations being disrupted by Amazon.

Today, Amazon is the second-largest U.S.-based publicly listed employer and the fifth biggest on this planet. It employs 1.2 million people, having hired 427,000 in the course of the pandemic. No wonder Amazon created such a buzz in 2018 when it held a contest to pick out a location for its second headquarters. It eventually picked Arlington, Virginia.

Amazon’s work culture is intense. It has a repute as a cutthroat environment with a high worker burnout rate. It is automating as many roles as possible, mostly in warehousing.

At the identical time, after criticism from policymakers, Amazon stepped up in 2018 and raised the minimum wage for its U.S. employees to $15 per hour.

Faced with growing criticisms in regards to the mounting impact of Amazon’s boxes and other packaging material on the environment, Amazon has also pledged to disclose more details about its environmental impact.

Jeff Bezos holds the primary book Amazon ever sold, ‘Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies’ by Douglas Hofstadter, in 2005.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

The next generation

What’s in store for Amazon as Bezos steps down from his CEO role later this yr?

Bezos, who will stay on as Amazon’s executive chairman, has previously said his focus is on stopping Amazon from dying. As he noted at a 2018 all-hands meeting, “Amazon just isn’t too big to fail.”

As a professor of selling who has conducted research on online retailing and analyzed a whole lot of cases, I consider that Amazon’s future – and humanity’s – is inextricably linked to the rise of artificial intelligence. Starting with Alexa, the corporate’s virtual assistant, Amazon is betting on AI.

In fact, Amazon is testing anticipatory shipping, a practice by which it anticipates what shoppers need and mails the items before shoppers get them organized. Shoppers can keep the items they like and return those they don’t want at no charge. It can be betting on cashier-free stores and AI-powered home robots.

Amazon’s future success will depend upon how the incoming CEO – current head of cloud computing Andy Jassy – navigates these latest technologies while pushing the corporate into more industries, resembling health care and financial services.

His challenge is to maintain Bezos’ legacy and Amazon’s disruptive culture alive.

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