Friday, October 2, 2015

What Exactly is Amazon... 3PL? Retailer? IT Company? Delivery Company? - Answer: All of the Above

I have written about the growth of Amazon as a 3PL / Logistics company for a long time and yet even I, after following them very closely, did not fully understand their reach into all facets of the value chain until this week.  This week I had the privileged of attending the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals' (CSCMP) Annual Global Conference where I heard Dave Clark, SVP of Global Operations and Customer Service at Amazon speak about their plans.

Amazon Prime, Amazon Flex etc etc. were all discussed at this conference and I found it fascinating. A couple of key points:

  1. They take care of back office technology to support the front end.  Too many times companies will roll out slick apps or websites but do nothing different in the back room.  This leads to sexy presentations but bad customer experiences.
  2. Innovation is a way of life at Amazon.  Amazing amount of innovation and amazing how much of it bubbles up from the working level.  This, of course, does not happen by accident and the culture along with the infrastructure to support this environment has been nurtured over a long period of time.
  3. The concept of one way and two way doors in innovation was critical.  A two way door is where an innovation can easily be backed out of if it does not work. In this case, the innovation is moved along quickly, tried and adjusted if needed.

    The one way door is an innovation where the ability to come back is severely limited (Think Hernan Cortes burning of the boats).  This means there must be very careful thought, due diligence and research before going forward. 
    Hernan Cortes burns the boats
    This structure allows for a lot faster innovation on a lot more products and services?  He did not say this but I would think for every 1 "one way door" innovation there are at least 10 "two way door" innovations.  Why make those 10 go through the grind necessary for the one way door innovation?
  4. Speed is clearly their goal.  They measure order to delivery time from the time the customer hits "buy" to the time the product is out the door.
  5. When asked how they balance service and cost his answer was clear:  They don't.  They provide the service then figure out the cost.  When asked about profitability he responds that Amazon is very profitable... they just choose to reinvest all the money back into the company. 
If you are in any of the industries I mentioned above, don't think Amazon is not coming for your business ... they are.  

See all my writings on Amazon here

1 comment:

  1. Supply Chain and Logistics Management is their primary framework and more business are on their way to be their partner.