Amazon opened its online doors as a book, DVD and CD retailer just 15 years ago. Today, the site sells more books, DVDs and CDs than any other retailer, and large book sellers such as Borders are struggling in Amazon’s wake.
But media products isn’t the only slice of retail market share that Amazon has stolen. 2009 marked the first year that sales of other merchandise on Amazon surpassed book, DVD and CD sales on the site. If business continues the way it’s been going in 2009, worldwide sales of other merchandise on Amazon will surpass worldwide book, DVD, and CD sales before the year ends.
There is no doubt that Amazon has changed the retail landscape. As the New York Times cites, remember neighborhood bookstores, record shops and video stores? Few remain in 2009 with more and more consumers preferring the convenience, wide selection and free shipping from Amazon. Even mass retailers like Walmart are feeling the Amazon pinch.
But retailers aren’t the only ones feeling threatened by Amazon. Even auction sites like eBay are seeing buyers shift to Amazon since Amazon now allows third parties to sell products through its site (Amazon takes 15% from those sales). Both Walmart and Sears are doing or planning to do the same thing on their Web sites. Other companies such as Target and Toys ‘r Us which partnered with Amazon to sell their products in the past are ending those partnership agreements and striking out on their own.
So was Amazon in the right place at the right time during its early days? One could argue that, but Amazon succeeded in the early days when other online retailers did not. Today, the brand represents online shopping. It’s the go-to place to purchase just about anything — or at the least, it’s the site people begin their shopping research.
Amazon created a new online business model that competitors are only starting to copy. Does Amazon have enough of a foothold in its market to disregard that competition? So far, it certainly doesn’t appear that another company can replicate what Amazon has built over the past 15 years.
What do you think? Can anyone threaten Amazon?
This sounds like a job for Google.
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