Amazon executive Ajay Kavan believes more retailers need to “start with the customer and work backwards” when driving innovation.
The etail titan’s vice president of international special projects – a role that includes responsibility for Amazon Fresh in the UK – suggested that most companies are not as customer-focused as they claim to be.
Delivering the closing keynote at Retail Week Live, Kavan insisted that Amazon’s culture of “customer obsession” is the main reason for its success.
“We work super-hard to create a culture that’s customer-focused and not competitor-focused”
Ajay Kavan, Amazon
And he revealed that Amazon starts any new idea by writing a mock press release, answering the questions the business thinks its customers would ask.
Kavan said: “We believe that the way we think about customer obsession is the number one reason that Amazon exists today in pretty much any form.
“We work super-hard to create a culture that’s customer-focused and not competitor-focused.
“Certainly, in my experience, while most companies describe themselves as customer-focused, many obsess quite a bit over competitors, carefully watching what others are doing and working hard to catch up.”
Kavan added: “With everything we do, we try to start with our customers and work backwards.
“To do that, we’ve developed mechanisms that cover pretty much every aspect of our organisation.
“As one practical example, pretty much any new initiative at Amazon, however small, starts with someone writing a mock press release and answering some of the questions we think a customer would ask about that.
“We don’t start with a feasibility study, we don’t start with a business plan, we start with a mock press release”
Ajay Kavan, Amazon
“We don’t start with a feasibility study, we don’t start with a business plan, we start with a mock press release.”
Kavan claimed it was still “day one” for ecommerce because of the “staggering” rate of digital innovation – and he sees no sign of that slowing down.
“It’s impossible to keep track of all the interesting things happening in ecommerce in our own business, never mind global ecommerce,” Kavan added.
“This rate of innovation in ecommerce, particularly in start-ups, is absolutely staggering, and if anything that rate of change is actually accelerating.
“Sometimes people say ‘That’s all well and good, so when is day two?’.
“Our view is that when the rate of innovation and change on the internet starts to slow down, that’s day two, but we’re certainly not seeing any sign of that happening yet.”