It’s hard to think of any retailer which has been as innovative as Amazon in recent years. This last month has been no exception. There have been no fewer than 12 announcements from the group – one every other working day, and it also announced sales growth of 34% in the third quarter (including Whole Foods for the first time).

What it’s been doing

  1. Prime Villages in the UK. 20 villages in the UK have been given free Prime membership.

  2. Prime Launched in Belgium and the Netherlands

  3. Own brand furniture launched under the Rivet and Stone & Beam brands

  4. Own brand sportswear launched under the Rebel Canyon, Peak Velocity and Goodsport. Goodsport is the entry level range.

  5. Pop-up shops planned in the UK for Black Friday promotions. They would be specifically to allow shoppers to browse the Black Friday offers. (In the UK “Black Friday” is being spread across 10 days).

  6. Augmented reality added to the Mobile App, allowing customers to view products in a home setting.

  7. US – Amazon now a licensed pharmacist in 12 states.

  8. US – in house delivery launched for Prime customers. The idea is that couriers could be granted access to the house. The system would require an electronic system to unlock the property.

  9. Dash buttons expanded to over 100 brands

  10. Introduction of teenage friendly shopping. 13 to 17 year olds would be able to shop through the Amazon App, but Parents would have to authorise each purchase.

  11. Third quarter figures show sales up 34%, including one month of sales from Whole Foods. Excluding the acquisition sales were up 29%.

  12. Integration of Alexa into BMW and Mini cars from 2018 onwards.

The only thing missing in this list, and that may because we mostly concentrate on retail stories, is anything to do with leisure and entertainment.

Amazon’s strategy

The glib response is that this is all part of Amazon’s quest for world domination. Naturally, its ambitions are rather more sophisticated than that. But its strategy is summed up by Jeff Bezos’ comment that the aim with Prime is to make it such great value you’d be mad not to be a member.

Amazon aims to give fantastic value and service across all areas of consumer lifestyles that can be affected by online.

Prime

Prime is the membership club that adds a very wide range of services to the basic Amazon offer. It is a fundamental part of Amazon’s strategy to tie people into Amazon and make it the destination for all retail and leisure services.

Products

Amazon’s ranges have to be comprehensive and price competitive. But own brands take such an offer one stage further by offering great value exclusive products to the proposition. There’s nothing new about this, but Amazon needed the time and scale to make it worthwhile to develop them. Even so it could have done so earlier.

Food

The acquisition of Whole Foods is the logical next step in becoming a major food retailer as well. Amazon has been experimenting for some time, but now it shows that it is in earnest.

It tries anything

Adding online pharmacies is also a logical step. But it is also very tricky as this is a very highly regulated sector and regulations vary between states and between countries.

Achilles heel?

If there is an Achilles heel in all this it has to be that online is not particularly easy to browse. But the development of AR shows Amazon is making the most of the opportunities that online display can offer.

And most important of all – customers like it

By any standards the third quarter results are outstanding. 29% growth would be excellent for a fast growing young business, but for a company which is already one of the largest non-food retailers in the world, they are remarkable.

Where next?

A dozen developments across a wide range of operations might be seen as just random announcements. But there’s a clear underlying strategy to what Amazon is doing. It is very powerful and it has great momentum.

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