In his continuing series on Big Tech Trust, US correspondent Sam Bocetta poses the question, “Can you trust Amazon?”
Sam is ideally placed to research ‘Can you trust Amazon’ because it is so entrenched in the US landscape – not so much in Australia.
But as he found Amazon is like an iceberg – cold, foreboding, big on top and even bigger and perhaps more treacherous underneath. We will let him explain that statement.
We Yanks have largely grown up with Amazon – since the early days of the internet. It started as an online marketplace for books and then grew like creeping cancer into just about everything under the ever-smiling and cleverly designed Amazon A to Z logo.
I was going to subtitle this ‘Exposing Differences Between Amazon as a Business and Amazon as a Data Collector’. But I may have played my hand too early – oh well, so be it.
And that is where we must start before we make any judgements about can you trust Amazon.
Amazon, the e-commerce platform, is trusted. Let’s not worry at present about fake websites, fake reviews, fake goods or scams. On the whole US, consumers trust Amazon, its convenience in accessing multiple products, its quick delivery and its seamless returns policy. That leads to reassurance when shopping on the platform. It is as if Amazon in the online world can do no wrong.
Amazon (website here) knows that trust is the cornerstone of its business. And using that trust it has built a vast US$280.522 billion empire with 790,000 employees that is driven by its e-commerce technology platform.
The tip of the iceberg (visible) includes (in alphabetic order and we will leave the word Amazon off each of its primary operations below)
|Alexa and the Echo speaker family||Appstore||Audible|
|Book store||Digital (games)||Drive (cloud storage)|
|Fire TV and Tablets||Fresh (grocery)||Kindle and e-Books|
|Music (music)||Prime (‘membership’ with benefits)||Studios (Video production)|
|Video (video)||Web Services (one of the largest cloud hosting companies on the planet)|
What lies beneath – and we venture the lack of Amazon branding is intentional!
|6pm (fashion deals)||A9.com (search engine)||AbeBooks (books, art and collectables)|
|Accept.com||ACX (audiobook publishing)||Advertising (Find, attract and engage customers)|
|Air||Annapurna Labs||Body Labs|
|Book Depository||Box Office Mojo (movie times)||Business (Amex card)|
|ComiXology (digital comics)||CreateSpace (indie publishing)||DP Review (Digital Photography)|
|East Dame (designer men’s fashion)||Eero Wi-Fi||Elemental Tech|
|Fabric (sewing, quilting)||Goodreads (Book reviews)||Graphiq|
|Home Services||Ignite (Digital Educational Resources)||IMDb (movie database)|
|Interactive||Internet||Kindle Direct Publishing|
|Logistics (warehousing, distribution, fulfilment, delivery)||Market (millions of third-party sellers)||Neighbours (real-time crime and security alerts)|
|Rapids (kids focus)||Ring (home security products)||Robotics|
|Songza||Second Chance (second hand)||Services|
|Shopbop (fashion)||Souq.com||Subscription (magazine and content subscription services)|
|Wind Farm||Woot (Deals and shenanigans)||Zappos (Shoes and Clothing)|
And there are projects like Kuiper (Satellite Wi-Fi).
In fact, this list is almost inexhaustible because whenever it sees an opportunity, it buys it. Or if another brand’s product is selling well, it then makes it – enter AmazonBasics and its private label brands (this is an excellent article).
Amazon-owned Top 10 most successful private label brands are:
|Basics||household goods, electronics|
|Essentials||men’s and women’s clothing|
|Pinzon||bedding and towels|
|Elements||vitamins and supplements|
|Simple Joys by Carter’s||children’s clothing|
|Daily Ritual||women’s clothing|
|Lark & Ro||women’s clothing|
And it has hundreds of ‘disposable’ names like 28 Palms, Common District, Leather Architect, or Obsidian.
Non-Amazon brands get lost in the chaos of over a billion products and have to compete with the brands launched by Amazon.
Apart from its own enterprises, it directly affects 680,000 jobs created by Amazon’s investments in areas like construction, logistics, and other professional services and 830,000+ jobs created by small and medium-sized businesses selling on Amazon.com.
Founder Jeff Bezos invests in all manner of companies (as you would expect one of the world’s richest men to do).
Forgive us for taking a great deal of pleasure in the recent news that Bezo’s smartphone was hacked. Not that we condone stealing personal information from anyone. Quite the opposite. But the pleasure to be drawn from the recent headlines is that finally Bezos has got a taste of his own medicine – now someone knows more about this reclusive billionaire.
So that is the Amazon business. What drives it?
Just two words – Search and Data!
70% of search on Amazon’s e-commerce site is for ‘generic’ items like batteries, sports shoes etc. Very little is for a specific brand, model or product.
That means in the vast majority of cases; Amazon can use its search algorithms to deliver ‘tailored’ results. Those algorithms are secret, but its A9.com drives the search. At its basic level, it will deliver results to increase the probability of a sale, e.g. Amazon’s best-selling products, best margins, fulfilled by Amazon, stock availability, most customer-centric sellers, number of positive reviews etc.