Amazon’s innovations have helped it become extremely successful, making it an excellent change management case study.
Since it was formed, Amazon has innovated across countless areas and industries, including:
- Warehouse automation
- The web server industry
- Streaming video and on-demand media
- Electronic books
Considering that Amazon started as an online bookstore, these accomplishments are quite impressive.
Examining Amazon as a change management highlights a few important business lessons:
- Innovation fuels success, especially in today’s digital economy
- Speed is the ultimate weapon
- Those who resist organizational change can easily get left behind
Below, we’ll examine some of Amazon’s changes … and hopefully discover a few reasons why it has become so successful.
Let’s get started.
Amazon: The Ultimate Change Management Case Study
Below are 10 ways Amazon has changed its business, transforming itself far beyond a mere online bookseller.
In no particular order…
1. Amazon Web Services
When Amazon Web Services (AWS) started out, most developers didn’t take it seriously.
A decade later, it was the go-to cloud server company in the world.
In fact, Bezos has even said that AWS was the biggest part of the company.
Since it has more capacity than its nearest 14 competitors combined, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
2. Whole Foods
After acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon began making changes to the grocery store chain.
A few of these include:
- Price cuts
- Adding Amazon products to the shelves
- Integrating Whole Foods and Amazon Prime
- Internal restructuring
Other programs include food delivery from Whole Foods, rewards for customers using Amazon credit cards, and discounts for Prime members.
Amazon has drastically innovated product delivery.
For instance, customers with Prime memberships can enjoy free two-day delivery.
In certain cities, Prime members can also get free same-day or one-day delivery.
And with its drone delivery program on the horizon, customers may be able to receive orders in 30 minutes or less.
4. Warehouse Automation
Amazon warehouses have undergone major technological transformations.
Currently, Amazon warehouses uses robots to collect and transport many of its products.
In coming years, though, even more of the company’s 200,000+ warehouse workers could be replaced by robots.
In 2016 alone, it increased robot workers by 50%.
5. TV and Prime Video
Another innovation of the former bookseller is its foray into TV, movies, and video.
Amazon began by selling videos and DVDs. Now it streams, rents, and sells digital copies of videos.
On top of that, the company has joined YouTube, Netflix, and other tech giants by producing its own movies and TV shows.
6. Amazon in Other Countries
Change managers would also be interested in how Amazon adapts itself to other countries’ economies.
In India, for instance, Amazon has been forced to adopt unique measures.
- Using mom-n-pop stores as delivery locations
- Hiring bicycle or motorcycle couriers for last-mile deliveries
- Creating mobile tea carts that serve tea and teach business owners about e-commerce
These types of innovations are necessary to succeed in other countries.
Failure to adapt to these changes often proves disastrous, which is a major reason why Google China failed.
7. Amazon Go
Amazon isn’t just an online retailer … it has now opened up physical grocery stores.
However, as with all of its business ventures, it aims to disrupt, transform, and dominate retail grocery stores.
In this case, Amazon wants to create grocery stores with zero clerks.
Amazon Go is a venture that promises no checkout lines, no hassle, and ultra-convenience.
8. Kindle and E-Books
Everyone knows that Kindle has been one of Amazon’s biggest innovations.
This product has single-handedly revolutionized the book publishing industry.
For better or for worse, Kindle has changed the way books are read, sold, and distributed.
Some estimates have placed Kindle e-book revenue at over half a billion dollars per year.
9. Affiliate Marketing
Early on in Amazon’s career, it opened its doors to online sales associates.
Members of Amazon Associates can earn revenue by sending web visitors to the sales giant.
According to Amazon, there are over 900,000 global members – all working to promote the company’s products and online presence.
10. Blue Origin
Technically speaking, Blue Origin is a different company from Amazon.
However, it’s worth noting that Amazon and Jeff Bezos can hardly be separated.
Without the famous founder’s extreme drive and vision, Amazon wouldn’t be what it is today.
And without his willingness to innovate, he never would have founded Blue Origin.
Like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Blue Origin literally aims for the stars.
Its mission and goal – “millions of people living and working in space.”
Conclusion: Amazon Proves that Change Drives Success
It’s safe to say that Amazon’s defining trait has been its willingness to change.
What started as an online bookstore has become a multi-industry behemoth.
It has crushed companies that don’t innovate … it has revolutionized several industries … and it shows no signs of slowing.
The biggest lesson from this change management case study?
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.