Amazon are one of the most relentless innovators in the retail marketplace. By their nature, they are a disruptor and thus thrive on making changes to the industry. However, they’re not satisfied by just making 1 change and then settling into a standard day to day operation. Instead, they plan change after change and make them happen on a continual basis. But do you know what it is that sets Amazon apart? What is it that they do differently to drive new change into their business? In this blog post, we’ll explore what the real impact of Amazon’s innovation is. Plus some of the tangible things they do to make that happen.

What’s the impact of Amazon’s relentless drive for change?

With Amazon’s ongoing drive for change, we now hear about the “Amazon Effect”. Whilst many consumers assume this could be about putting smaller retailers out of business, it turns out the reality is different.

Instead, the “Amazon Effect” is calling for all retailers to up their game. It is driving retail businesses to focus on the customer rather than sitting in the status quo. Poor and mediocre retailers decline but the best retailers thrive. Perhaps you could consider this a form of evolution, similar to Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest.

The “Amazon Effect” is explored much more in a brilliant book, Amazon: How the World’s Most Relentless Retailer will Continue to Revolutionize Commerce. Written by Natalie Berg and Miya Knights, you can pick up a copy in all good bookstores or of course on Amazon.

How does Amazon make this continual change happen?

The recipe for how to create a change culture is of course a complex formula. However, I wanted to share 2 particular points of difference which put Amazon in a different playing field.

Focusing on customer benefit

I interviewed the authors of the “Amazon” book recently. I asked Natalie Berg how Amazon continue to drive changes:

“They don’t do PowerPoint slides. Instead, if you have an idea for a new product, you put together a press release as if the product was launching today.”

This is a very different spin on the usual way of starting projects. They’re not focused on the business benefits but instead on visualising on the end point. Then Berg continues:

“In that press release, you have to convey all the benefits to the customer and then you work backwards and develop the actual product.”

This is an excellent example of how they have a very clear focus on the customer. In turn, they are inspired and motivated to continually improve for customers.

Hiring diligently

I remember that an old manager of mine went for a role at Amazon and I was amazed by the diligence of their recruitment process. There were 10+ interviews to go through and even as a referee, I had a detailed 30-40 minute interview! This is far more than I’ve ever experienced or come across.

What this tells us is that they hire dedicated and determined people. Also and perhaps obviously, the quality will be high too as there are so many barriers and opportunities to say “no” to a candidate too.

So, how will you focus on driving high quality people?

The bottom line: focusing on the customer

Amazon are continuing to drive changes in retail. As they expand into new markets, we’ll probably see their pace of change accelerate if anything. In turn, they’ll ask other retailers to step up to the challenge of being a brilliant, customer focused retailer. So if you’re willing to take up that challenge, you need to ensure that you continually focus of customers and have a high quality, driven team.

So, what are the points of difference that will help you to complete and stay nimble?

Find out more, listen to the Retail Transformation Show podcast

Oliver Banks spoke to Natalie Berg and Miya Knights on the Retail Transformation Show podcast.

Listen to episode 16 – How Amazon are transforming retail. Here’s a little sneak peak at that episode.

Then, listen to the 2nd part in episode 17 – Beyond the age of Amazon. And here’s a teaser trailer for that one.

project management expert Oliver BanksAbout the Author, Oliver Banks

Oliver Banks is an expert at delivering retail change projects and programmes. He’s tried a number of different techniques over his 15 years of working on different types and sizes of projects. He blends classic project management techniques from PRINCE2, PMBOK and Lean Six Sigma with a dose of pragmatism and business reality to ensure retail projects are led, managed and delivered successfully.


project management expert Oliver Banks

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