Examining successful online stores is extremely important if you are going to build your own online store that is profitable. Amazon the mother of e-commerce, has lots that they can teach us. Here is a brief history, and a couple of lessons below.
Humble beginnings with big goals.
Amazon was founded at the same time as its almost competitor eBay. The year was 1995 and the online world was a shiny new toy for explorers to play with.
From the very get go, Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon had big asperations. Thus the choice of the name. He wanted a name that represented something of epic proportions and thus he chose Amazon like the Amazon river.
An objective reached
It wouldn’t take long for Jeff to realise his dreams, as within 5 years Amazon had reached a milestone that took Wal-Mart 20 years to achieve. $5 billion in sales!
Almost a decade later and Amazon is a global powerhouse closing in on almost 100 million customers, tens of thousands of staff and a highly diversified product offering including almost any physical product you could think of. A range of digital products including MP3s, eBooks delivered on their Kindle platform and cloud computing space delivered through their S3 platform and service offerings including their fulfilment service arm.
Vision and Strategy
Amazons vision states:
“Relentlessly focus on customer experience by offering our customers low prices, convenience, and a wide selection of merchandise.”
You can see they are continuing to pursue this vision even today as they continue to expand their product offering and continue to drive down prices. The big recent acquisition of Zappos is an excellent example of Amazon moving into new territory and convenience.
What we can learn
One of the most important success factors of Amazon was their focus on building customer loyalty and repeat business. If you watch lesson 6 of my free 7 day video course you will notice I talk about email marketing using aweber and how to build relationships with your customers to ensure loyalty and repeat business. Amazon uses this as one of their many methods to ensure customer loyalty as you can read below:
“We work to earn repeat purchases by providing easy-to-use functionality, fast and reliable fulfillment, timely customer service, feature rich content, and a trusted transaction environment.
Key features of our websites include editorial and customer reviews; manufacturer product information; Web pages tailored to individual preferences, such as recommendations and notifications; 1-Click® technology; secure payment systems; image uploads; searching on our websites as well as the Internet; browsing; and the ability to view selected interior pages and citations, and search the entire contents of many of the books we offer with our “Look Inside the Book” and “Search Inside the Book” features. Our community of online customers also creates feature-rich content, including product reviews, online recommendation lists, wish lists, buying guides, and wedding and baby registries.”
Test, test, test
Amazon is known for having a ‘culture of metrics’. One of the major benefits of running an online business is you can track literally every action that a customer takes. Every page they enter from, every click they make, where their eyeballs move, each mouse tick. Everything is tractable. This data was collected and collected. Then the testing began. They started to test new pages, buttons, fonts, colours. Every little detail of their site was tweaked and tested until they figured out what worked best.
While your testing strategies may not always be as intricate and details as Amazons, you should always at least be testing one thing on your store at all times. Whether you start with something simple like an email optin or go a little more complex such as a product page. Make sure you are always testing and optimizing your site.