How Did Amazon Get Its Start?
Amazon is one of the best known brands in history. Over time, it’s become a household name that provides families with fast delivery of everything from fresh produce to your door to videos to your smartphone. But how did Amazon get it’s start? And how did it become what it is today?
The History of Amazon
- It began in 1994: Jeff Bezos and his wife started Amazon as an online book store. They took advantage of Seattle’s reputation as a tech hub and Bezos financed the company with $10,000 of his own money.
- The name is a reference to the jungle: While Amazon wasn’t the original venture name, Jeff Bezos went with it because he envisioned his company being the largest online distributor, just like the Amazon is the furthest-stretching river in the world.
- It started with books: Books were easy to receive, package, and ship, so they made sense as a product they could be competitive about offering affordably and conveniently.
- The company was successful enough to go public by 1996: Amazon had a valuation of $300 million when they entered the stock market. At this time, they also announced that they would be investing significantly in technology and marketing to compete against Barnes & Noble.
- They expanded into physical music sales in 1998: Amazon added CDs and DVDs to their product lineup (the precursor to Amazon Music and Prime Video, which allow consumers to stream media as part of their Prime Membership).
- They patented “one-click” buying technology: One of the greatest conveniences that Amazon has brought to consumers is an easier, more intuitive shopping experience. They were one of the first places to streamline shopping, allowing shoppers to buy one item quickly without having to go through a cart and checkout process every time. One quick click and a confirmation was all it took to complete a purchase.
- Their 3rd-party seller marketplace launched in 1999: Amazon began allowing for other vendors to use the Amazon platform to sell products. While many companies use Amazon as their online store front today, it was originally a way for buyers to connect with sellers of collectible books or other rare items that they might not be able to find with regular retailers.
- They expanded to clothing in 2002: The next major product addition that Amazon began distributing was clothing, through partnerships with several major apparel brands. This led to the full catalog of products that are available now, including kitchenware, pantry items, toys, and electronics.
- Prime debuted in 2005: Prime is one of the most valuable Amazon assets – for both the business and the consumer. For a flat monthly fee, shoppers can get free shipping on physical products, as well as access to a whole host of other digital features. In turn, Amazon becomes a one-stop shopping hub for consumers who want the most convenient experience.
- The Kindle went on sale in 2007: The Kindle wasn’t the first ebook device available, but it changed the way that people read for good. This electronic device allowed for users to read books, magazines, and newspapers without ever having to buy the physical copy. Users could store a whole library digitally. The Kindle app can now be downloaded for free to nearly every smart device so that readers can read their Kindle content anywhere.
- Their virtual assistant Alexa became widely available on Echo devices in 2015: The Echo platform brought Alexa into homes everywhere. Users could now just say “Alexa” and ask questions, check the weather, listen to music, and much more, all without having to interface with a physical device, adding additional conveniences to the lives of customers everywhere.
In addition to these technology milestones that have changed the way that customers research and buy products, the company has acquired many other companies in its history, adding their technology and products to the extended Amazon lineup. While many of these companies maintain their operational independence, both the acquired organizations and Amazon have benefited from the extended reach of these partnerships, including Audible, Zappos, Whole Foods, and Twitch.
Over the last 25 years, Amazon has become a business behemoth that connects consumers to the products that they want and businesses to the customers that they need. For more information on how Elemerce can help you grow your presence on Amazon and improve your customer engagement, get in touch with our team today.