Amazon.com, one of the pioneer companies of e-commerce, was founded in July 1995 by Jeff Bezos after he read an article that projected Web growth at over 2,000 percent. Eager to participate in the Internet business boom of that time and wishing to avoid a sense of regret, Bezos set out to create the company that would eventually provide the world’s biggest selection of online goods: Amazon.
Bezos began his endeavor by creating a list of 20 promising items he thought he could sell online successfully. His list included items such as compact discs, computer hardware and software, books and videos. He chose the name Amazon because it was near the beginning of the alphabet, because it sounded exotic and different and because it was large, just like he wanted his online store to be.
Though Bezos began Amazon.com in his Bellevue, Washington garage, it was not long until the company’s rapid success and growth required him to move the company into an office building in Seattle, Washington. Unlike traditional book and mortar books stores, Amazon.com shipped books from wholesalers and publishers, so no large warehouse was needed. Instead, the office served as the central headquarters and customer service center for the company.
It is no surprise that Amazon.com grew so quickly, considering that Bezos was striving to set the standard for web business. He intentionally designed the products to be affordable and the website to be very user friendly, as any user experience developer would. For example, Amazon.com visitors can search for books by topic area, they can see which books are trending currently and they can see recommended suggestions based on their past purchase history. Amazon.com also added addition special touches such as gift wrapping, new book alerts and product reviews written by real customers.
In July 1996, Amazon.com began offering an Associates program, which allowed individual website owners to place Amazon.com ads on their website and make a commission from the products their website viewers bought from Amazon through their individual websites. In May of 1997, Amazon.com became a public company with three million shares of stock offered. The company continued to expand by adding a second location on the East Coast and by establishing the new goal that 95 percent of in-stock books would ship out the same day.
In 1997, Amazon.com became the first Internet retailer to reach one million customers. Six short months later, Amazon.com broke a record again by servicing its second million customers. With yearly sales of $147.8 billion and customers in all 50 states and 160 different countries, Amazon.com had quickly become the third largest bookseller in the United States.
Amazon.com continued to rapidly grow and expand. The company entered the online music business, launched Amazon Auctions and began offering toys and electronics. Bezos divided Amazon.com into separate online stores to make purchases easier. In 1999, Bezos won the prestigious Person of the Year award from Time Magazine.
Despite Amazon’s amazing growth and success, the company did not post a profit until late 2001, six whole years after the company was created. Once Bezos knew financial success was possible, however, he increased the company’s focus on price reduction, instead of just vast selection and convenience, and the site continued to expand.
Today, Amazon.com is the world’s largest online goods retailer with websites customized for more than thirteen countries all around the world. Over 109,800 employees work for Amazon, and the company had a revenue of $61.09 billion in 2012. Amazon.com is available in eight languages, including English, French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese. With its automated systems that ship books from wholesalers and publishers without dedicated Amazon warehouses, Amazon.com is the king of consumer fulfillments.