Magazine article Management Today

Company Vitae: Amazon

Magazine article Management Today

Company Vitae: Amazon

Article excerpt

Would you buy groceries from the world's largest e-tailer?

Formative years

On a cross-country drive from New York to Seattle in 1994, an ambitious ex-hedge fund exec named Jeff Bezos wrote up the business plan for his new venture - a mail-order bookstore based on a then little-known technology called the internet. Wonder if it ever caught on?

He called it Amazon.com after the world's longest river - a name whose meaning only slowly became clear: 23 years later the firm's interests encompass almost every aspect of business all the way from the headwaters to the open sea.

- Recent history

So now you can buy practically anything from Amazon - a book to a bicycle, a garden table to Jeremy Clarkson's The Grand Tour - it is the world's largest online retailer and still growing at a whopping 28% per annum despite having hit dollars 136bn in sales (just don't ask about profit).

But there is one big branch of retail that eludes Amazon's fast-flowing tide of disruption - groceries. Food accounts for half of all shopping and yet Amazon Fresh remains a microscopic mosquito on the massive flanks of Wal-Mart et al.

In an effort to address this failing, in June Amazon announced its intention to spend dollars 13. …

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