I tried to give Amazon up for 3 months last fall. It was hard. Let me tell you how I suffered.
I had to call local bookstores to order books for me and then I had to wait for the books to arrive.
I couldn’t listen to Audible books and fall asleep to theories of quantum physics. I had to find podcasts interviewing physicists instead.
I couldn’t order those strange requests from my daughter’s school – a beret, supplies for a “handmade” historical fiction costume, a specific type of protractor only found online. I had to go to retail stores and just make do with the local inventory.
Then during my Amazon diet, they bought Whole Foods. So – I had to go to smaller groceries and sometimes get non-organic strawberries.
The time lost. The huge burden on my life. The substandard workarounds.
#notproblems, I know.
I decided on my Amazon purge because I teach a class on sustainable business models at Parsons Strategic Design and Management program, and my colleague Raz Goldenik encourages each student to commit to a personal act of environmental sustainability.
I live in a small apartment in Manhattan with a well-managed heating system, I have no car, I enjoy ample public transportation and mostly get around on foot. After air travel, my next big carbon footprint action is ordering giant boxes with small objects from Amazon on a weekly basis. But my big insight came from the daily realization of Amazon’s business model plans. I believe Amazon is trying to be the only business. In the world.
Amazon’s Business Model Timeline
In fact, it’s hard to map Amazon’s moves in a simple 2-dimensional format
Investors like to talk about the big tech stocks as a bunch. The FANG stocks. Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google and I’ve mapped them all. But when you see a company swerve through strategic decisions and business model shifts, there one company that stands out. Amazon is playing on different terrain.
Other companies practice game theory. Amazon is playing complexity theory.
Other companies are strong in B:C or B:B. Amazon is strong in B:C, B:B, B:G, B:B:C, C:B.
Other companies are simply trying and failing and building their models, attempting to optimize their core model and diversify into new markets and revenue streams. Amazon has massively successful models that are powerful because they combine – e-commerce with subscription and then Amazon Web Services and even machine-learning-as-a-service.
The only thing I can’t figure out is their aim, their moonshot. Sure, Jeff Bezos is investing in space travel and has a robot dog that follows him around at space conferences. But where is it all going? What’s the overarching ambition besides pleasing customers? Does Amazon aim to be the only business left?
Jen van der Meer is the Founder of Reason Street and is an Assistant Professor at Parsons School of Design Strategies. Jen is on a mission to measure the value of everything. She believes that business models can be designed to build the future we want to see.
You can explore the Business Model Library, read about The Business Model Growth Map, Which One Page Strategy Tool Works Best, Do You Suffer from Value Proposition Confusion, The Customer Pain Scale, If You Have Innovation in Your Job Title, The Non-Linear Growth Competency Gap, and Models that We Live By.