From its humble beginnings as an online bookstore and throughout its steady growth into the titan of industry that it is today, Amazon has done a lot for the field of ecommerce. When Amazon started up in 1994, ecommerce was barely a thing and the Internet was still exotic and confusing for most consumers. In 1995, astronomer and author Clifford Stoll sneered at the idea of ecommerce, writing in Newsweek:
“We’re promised instant catalog shopping–just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete [sic]. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet–which there isn’t–the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.”
Amazon was one of the leaders in tackling the issues addressed in that sentiment. Over the years, Amazon refined their customer service offerings to earn shopper trust and loyalty, pushed the development of safe online transactions, and evolved to keep pace with consumer demand by increasing selection and reducing shipping times.
This growth had a two-fold impact. Firstly, it’s served as a model of success for countless ecommerce businesses to follow, while simultaneously creating the space for them to compete by increasing the popularity of, and demand for, ecommerce among everyday shoppers. Secondly, it acted as a catalyst for improvements in the supplier and fulfillment industries – driving down costs, improving logistics and inventory tracking, and spurring innovations to further increase the viability of the ecommerce industry.
Last month, Amazon.com celebrated its 22nd anniversary. The ecommerce industry has gone through so many changes in that time period, and Amazon has either been at the forefront of those changes, or been able to adapt to them successfully. And if Amazon’s track record is any indication, they’ll keep innovating for many more years to come.