Trump’s truck and attempting to outsmart Amazon

Sorry all for the lower activity as of late – a bit of vacation time and slacking means posts have dropped a wee bit. Time to get back into full flow (I hope)!

I pick up with a company that has been popping up in my news feed, Amazon. I’ve discussed them before in the context of Alexa but the reality is the company is so much more. I eluded to in the Alexa article on how power was being concentrated within certain big players and it’s fascinating how Amazon has gone from a site selling books to what is effectively a conglomerate.

The Economist have done an interesting briefing this week that is worth reading about the broader implications of the company. For me the aspect of how Amazon initially creates services to help itself internally before selling it as a product to the external market is most interesting. But what I want to focus on is how other startups/companies are getting creative in trying to challenge all the various parts of Amazon. And it’s worth restating that Amazon is really involved in a lot of different things.

Trump and his Truck

Let’s start with an unlikely company Buzzfeed. President Trump has proven to be comedy gold, and recent exploits of him being captured in a truck were in a day transformed into a children’s book. Have a look here for ‘The President and the Big Boy Truck’. Yes it’s funny (and follows on from the Buzzfeed Garbage Can) and simple; but here we have a product created and available to be distributed within a day.

We need to assess why Buzzfeed decided to make a children’s book out of the Trump’s truck. Simply put it it is decision making driven by data and being completely customer centric. Buzzfeed has access to so much information it is possible for them to target what will or will not be interesting to make as a product.

A bold approach to developing products

And here we have the discussion. Is such a simple product an illustrative way to target and compete with Amazon’s e-commerce business? Providing on demand products based on real time preferences and likes. Or are we simply restricting ourselves to novelty products?

A side note, it illustrates how Buzzfeed are trying to expand and grow into the commerce business. A realisation perhaps that a pure advertising revenue stream is not sustainable in itself?

Back on topic we also need to think about the incentive to set up a separate shop when Fulfilled By Amazon (FBA) is such an easy way for sellers to reach and find customers. There are more than a few established businesses who order their wares from Chinese factories and sell via FBA.

I have no doubt we will be using this data driven world to make more relevant products. And the tech world is so obsessed with speed and being first to market so we may indeed have stumbled upon a new type of business model. Though I question if making good products that work well in such a short space of time is possible. Time will tell.

I am a big fan of Amazon as a company, they focus on the long term and carve out markets that may have gone the way of more traditional firms. We touch on only one part of Amazon’s business here, but we’ll revisit the company over the months if I come across any further interesting competing models.

J

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