Only a handful of retailers can genuinely claim to have turned the industry upside down. But surely Amazon, which this week celebrated its 15th anniversary of operating in the UK, can legitimately be said to have done just that.
Only a handful of retailers can genuinely claim to have turned the industry upside down.
But surely Amazon, which this week celebrated its 15th anniversary of operating in the UK, can legitimately be said to have done just that.
The etail giant has expanded on its origins in books to stock categories ranging from food to fashion and tools
to toys, and founder Jeff Bezos has undoubtedly earned his place among the greats of global retail.
At the technology pioneer’s heart is a very simple proposition. The retailer aims, modestly, “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavours to offer its customers the lowest possible prices”.
Those 30 words have frequently been put into practice in the UK, and so successfully that they have contributed to the disappearance of some incumbents that once were market leaders.
It’s fashionable to bash Amazon - its tax affairs have drawn wide condemnation and there have been occasional controversies about the stocking of contentious products - but the truth is consumers flock to it in droves.
The extent of Amazon’s ambition has been mirrored by the brilliance of its execution. Ease of site navigability and innovations such as its product recommendations service or the Kindle devices have set the pace and spotlighted Amazon’s willingness to invest - sometimes at the expense of the bottom line - in improving its consumer offer.
And that’s the point. Amazon has clicked with the consumer and, despite the imbroglios about tax, it still does do so pretty consummately.
Just as Tesco once transformed high streets and retail parks and pushed relentlessly into retail pastures new, Amazon has become the Tesco of the internet. As it continues to grow, it must take care not to take the shopper for granted as the grocery giant eventually did.
But as long as it can stay true to its mission statement, Amazon should be able to avoid a similar fall from grace.
And any retailer that wants to ensure its place on the high street, digital or physical, needs a reason for existence as compelling as that of Amazon.