Jeff Bezos- One reason why Flipkart, Snapdeal will never be Amazon of India

Amazon is the fastest company to reach $100 Bn in Annual Sales and is cruising along to gain leadership position in the Indian Ecommerce Space. Meanwhile AWS reached $10Bn in annual sales, even faster. There primary reason why Amazon will be the Amazon of India is Jeff Bezos clarity of thought and leadership- Very well articulated in the letter to shareholders-

1. “Customer Obsession”
Both were planted as tiny seeds and both have grown organically without significant acquisitions into meaningful and large businesses, quickly. Superficially, the two could hardly be more different. One serves consumers and the other serves enterprises. One is famous for brown boxes and the other for APIs. Is it only a coincidence that two such dissimilar offerings grew so quickly under one roof? Luck plays an outsized role in every endeavor, and I can assure you we’ve had a bountiful supply. But beyond that, there is a connection between these two businesses. Under the surface, the two are not so different after all. They share a distinctive organizational culture that cares deeply about and acts with conviction on a small number of principles. I’m talking about customer obsession rather than competitor obsession, eagerness to invent and pioneer, willingness to fail, the patience to think long-term, and the taking of professional pride in operational excellence. Through that lens, AWS and Amazon retail are very similar indeed.

2. The culture of Failing Fast.
One area where I think we are especially distinctive is failure. I believe we are the best place in the world to fail (we have plenty of practice!), and failure and invention are inseparable twins. To invent you have to experiment, and if you know in advance that it’s going to work, it’s not an experiment. Most large organizations embrace the idea of invention, but are not willing to suffer the string of failed experiments necessary to get there. Outsized returns often come from betting against conventional wisdom, and conventional wisdom is usually right. Given a ten percent chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time. But you’re still going to be wrong nine times out of ten. We all know that if you swing for the fences, you’re going to strike out a lot, but you’re also going to hit some home runs. The difference between baseball and business, however, is that baseball has a truncated outcome distribution. When you swing, no matter how well you connect with the ball, the most runs you can get is four. In business, every once in a while, when you step up to the plate, you can score 1,000 runs. This long-tailed distribution of returns is why it’s important to be bold. Big winners pay for so many experiments.

3. Amazon is in India to win.
India is another example of how we globalize an offering like Marketplace through customer obsession and a passion for invention. Last year we ran a program called Amazon Chai Cart where we deployed three-wheeled mobile carts to navigate in a city’s business districts, serve tea, water and lemon juice to small business owners and teach them about selling online. In a period of four months, the team traveled 15,280 km across 31 cities, served 37,200 cups of tea and engaged with over 10,000 sellers. Through this program and other conversations with sellers, we found out there was a lot of interest in selling online, but that sellers struggled with the belief that the process was time-consuming, tedious and complex. So, we invented Amazon Tatkal, which enables small businesses to get online in less than 60 minutes. Amazon Tatkal is a specially designed studio-on-wheels offering a suite of launch services including registration, imaging and cataloguing services, as well as basic seller training mechanisms. Since its launch on February 17th, we have reached sellers in 25 cities.

4. Amazon is it’s own competition
Just over 10 years ago, AWS started in the U.S. with its first major service, a simple storage service. Today, AWS offers more than 70 services for compute, storage, databases, analytics, mobile, Internet of Things, and enterprise applications. We also offer 33 Availability Zones across 12 geographic regions worldwide, with another five regions and 11 Availability Zones in Canada, China, India, the U.S., and the U.K. to be available in the coming year. AWS started with developers and startups, and now is used by more than a million customers from organizations of every size across nearly every industry – companies like Pinterest, Airbnb, GE, Enel, Capital One, Intuit, Johnson & Johnson, Philips, Hess, Adobe, McDonald’s, and Time Inc.

AWS is bigger than Amazon.com was at 10 years old, growing at a faster rate, and – most noteworthy in my view – the pace of innovation continues to accelerate – we announced 722 significant new features and services in 2015, a 40% increase over 2014.

Many characterized AWS as a bold – and unusual – bet when we started. “What does this have to do with selling books?

2010 holidays shopping- Global Warming & Online Retail

US consumer’s spent 12{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} more than last year online; an aggregate of $32.6 billion over the holidays, reported comScore on Wednesday as it released the final numbers for this 2010 Holiday season.
It seems Global Warming is good for retailers as comScore credited blizzard for the boost in sales. Other contributors to the growth included earlier than usual promotions and aggressive free shipping offers, which were used in more than 50{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} transactions.

2010- Holiday Shopping- 12{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} over 2009
2010- Holiday Shopping- 12{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c} over 2009

Cyber Monday, the monday after Thanksgiving (and the so-called start of the online shopping season) recorded the heaviest spending of the 2010 season and crossed the $1 billion threshold at $1.028 billion. Free Shipping Day (December 17, 2010) recorded the maximum jump (61{b533f414762ff80097ee09d177cb5141b2a13e37c77cdd72580da9125ed6123c}) in sales over 2009

Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day- Recorded Maximum Sales
Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day- Recorded Maximum Sales

What’s the mantra for 2011?

1. Start the advertisements around your promotion early.

2. Get aggressive with shipping

3. Go Social, go Viral

4. Pray for bad weather? 🙂

Crowd Source or Crowd Critique – The GAP story

Last  week GAP unveiled its new logo (created by NY agency Laird & Partners) to it’s online community and the overwhelming response was negative. The online community jeered the new Logo and within no time websites were set up to ridicule the new GAP logo.

GAP heeded to the response and was quick to flip back to the 40 year old logo.

Ok. We’ve heard loud and clear that you don’t like the new logo. We’ve learned a lot from the feedback. We only want what’s best for the brand and our customers. So instead of crowd sourcing, we’re bringing back the Blue Box tonight??? was the update on GAP’s Facebook page.

Read the full press release here.

Is this a failure of Brand Management or success of Social Media?

Let’s look at the brighter side of the story:

  1. GAP saved Millions of Dollars it would have otherwise spent in Re-branding Deployment
  2. GAP could truly democratize change   and that will help re-enforce relationship with the patrons and community.
  3. Created the Buzz before the holiday season and I’m sure they will soon come out with a campaign/ promotion to leverage the incident.

However, there are few questions for Social Media Strategists and GAP think tank:

  1. Should GAP have considered crowd sourcing logo design rather than crowd sourcing criticism?
  2. What is the right time to involve customers in the decision making process?
  3. Are the public social communities the best platforms to discuss critical ideas and innovation? Should ideas be initially discussed within closed customer groups/ closed communities?
  4. Will this fiasco impact GAP’s branding?

Online Retail- The 2010 Paradigm

So who spends maximum online? Men, Women, Teens?

Where should the big brands and online retailers put their advertising $ in 2010 ? Search, Portals, Social Media?

Online shopping experience is changing in more ways than one. It is no secret that peer review and recommendation is the single biggest influence in the purchase decision. “I want that red stilettos that Jane has??? syndrome..

A recent study by comScore reveals a direct correlation between Online spend and time spent on Social Web. Visitors to Social Media websites ( read: Facebook and Twitter) spend more money online than other Internet users. Average

Per the comScore study, In the US in Q1 2010, visitors that spent the most time on Facebook also spent the most dollars on online shopping. The top 20% Visitors to Facebook (by time spent) spent average of $67 online.

Facebook Time Spent and Online Shopping
Facebook Time Spent and Online Shopping

Facebook Non Visitors spent $ 27 online shopping; much less than the average $50.

On Twitter users spend more than average Internet user, and more than most Facebook Visitors

Twitter Time Spent and Online Spend
Twitter Time Spent and Online Spend

The key takeaway from this study is that Twitter and Facebook are no longer teenage hangouts. Older audience (heavy spenders with higher disposable incomes) are propelling these platforms.
Online Retailers and Brands  better hone your 2010 plans to  include Facebook and  Twitter.