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Amazon.com, Inc.
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At a Glance

Uppers

Leading internet retail company with over 137 million active customer accounts

Reputation for low prices and reliability

Downers

Lack of charitable corporate giving in past years

Employees often work long days and overtime hours, especially during the holidays

The Bottom Line

A well-respected company that is an industry leader in new products and technology.

About Amazon.com, Inc.

Amazon.com began as Earth's biggest bookstore, but has become Earth's biggest everything store. Its website still offers millions of books, as well as other media, home furnishings, clothing, pet supplies, office products, and hundreds of other product categories (with items often ordered and delivered the same day). The company is also the dominant cloud services provider (through Amazon Web Services, or AWS), an influential entertainment company through its video streaming operations, a force to be reckoned with in grocery with its ownership of natural foods chain Whole Foods, and a leader in digital personal assistant devices with Alexa and its Echo product line.

Operations

Amazon.com organizes reporting of its operations into three segments: North America (about 60% of revenue), International (nearly 30%), and Amazon Web Services (AWS, about 10%).

Its North America segment includes retail sales and subscriptions sold via North American-focused websites, as well as through Whole Foods grocery stores, while the International segment includes the operations of internationally-focused websites such as Amazon sites serving the UK, Brazil, Japan, and other countries. AWS includes global revenue from its cloud, storage, database, and other services.

Stepping back from the geographic reporting, online sales, including products sold on behalf of third-parties, account for about 70% of Amazon's total revenue. Whole Foods physical stores generate just under 10% of revenue, with the company’s subscription services -- annual and monthly fees associated with Amazon Prime membership, as well as audiobook, e-book, digital video, digital music, and other services -- contributing about 5%.

Geographic Reach

The US is by far Seattle-based Amazon.com's largest market by sales (about 70%), with Germany, the UK, and Japan the top three international markets.

The company has a host of fulfillment, delivery, data, and other facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Sales and Marketing

Amazon.com serves consumers through its online and physical stores.

Its AWS segment targets businesses of all sizes, government agencies, schools, and other entities; customers include General Electric, Kellogg's, Hess, CapitalOne, and Workday.

Financial Performance

It is a bit of an understatement to call Amazon.com's recent revenue growth strong. Amid a boon in online shopping, the company's sales have rocketed more than 160% since 2014. Net income had been slightly more volatile amid heavy investments, but that figure has exploded in the past three years.

After a 31% jump in revenue in 2017, the company reported another 31% increase in 2018 to $232.9 billion. All three segments grew that year, with North America adding about $35 billion in new revenue from increased unit sales and a full year's ownership of Whole Foods. AWS continues to be the fastest-growing segment with a growth rate of 47%.

Amazon posted record net income for the third consecutive year with profit of $10.1 billion, up from $3 billion the prior year. The strong performance is powered by the high margins of AWS, which had operating income of $7.3 billion in 2018, slightly higher than profit from the much larger North America segment and more than enough to offset a $2.1 billion loss from the International segment, where Amazon is investing in its fulfillment network and technology.

Cash at the end of 2018 was about $32.2 billion, an increase of $10.3 billion from the prior year. Cash from operations contributed $30.7 billion to the coffers, while investing activities used $12.4 billion, mainly for property and equipment. Financing activities used another $7.7 billion as Amazon made principal repayments of capital lease obligations.

Strategy

Amazon.com’s strategy seems simply to be more. More industries, more products, more services, more (and faster) delivery options that lead to more customers, more revenue, and more profit.

Perhaps most important is more information. Amazon uses artificial intelligence throughout its systems to collect data on how the systems are used and how they can be improved. The information is also used to improve the customer experience. Machine learning drives the company’s algorithms for demand forecasting, product search ranking, product and deals recommendations, merchandising placements, fraud detection, translations, and more. Visible applications are autonomous drone delivery, the Alexa digital assistant, and AWS.

Amazon also wants to make it easier to consumers to buy products from it. Its $119-a-year Prime service provides free two-day delivery as well as next day delivery when products are stocked in a nearby fulfillment center. Owners of the Echo products can order products through Alexa. To get shipment to customers faster, Amazon has been on a fulfillment center building binge. The company also offers same-day delivery for some products in some cities for a price.

Amazon has ventured into brick-and-mortar locations too, primarily with the purchase of Whole Foods. Operating some 500 grocery stores not only gives the company a foothold in the huge US grocery market, but furthers its overall fulfillment strategy, allowing more same-day delivery and pickup in more markets. In early 2019 Amazon announced plans to close its nearly 90 pop-up stores as it rethinks its physical stores strategy; reports indicate it invest even more in physical stores such as bigger Amazon-branded stores and possibly a new sister grocery chain for Whole Foods.

AWS has been Amazon’s turbocharged growth engine, attracting customers that range from startups that need minimal amounts of computing power to companies like Netflix that stream millions of hours of video a day around the world from AWS servers. Following the Amazon philosophy, AWS continues to add functionality and reduce prices to attract more users and figure out how to run more efficiently to make it work financially.

Lastly, the company is making moves into the health care industry. In 2018 it announced plans for a health care alliance with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase (details are sparse, although 2019 saw the announcement of a name: Haven). Amazon is also bulking up its medical supplies inventory as it looks to better serve hospitals and other medical facilities through its business-to-business offering.

Mergers and Acquisitions

One of the ways Amazon has achieved unprecedented growth and moved into new areas is through acquisitions.

In 2019 Amazon agreed to buy eero, a company that makes devices to blanket a home with Wi-Fi signals, for an undisclosed amount. The deal could help Amazon in its quest to put devices like its Echo digital assistant, Ring doorbells, and Blink security systems in customers' homes. The routers made by eero could ensure that voice-enabled assistants would work throughout a house, allowing the residents to turn lights and appliances on and off with voice commands.

In 2018 Amazon bought PillPack, an online pharmacy, for a reported $1 billion. PillPack ships medications in pre-sorted dose packaging, coordinates refills and renewals, and ensures timely shipments.  The company has pharmacy licenses throughout the US and is authorized to deliver in 49 states and is an in-network pharmacy for major Medicare Part D plans. The purchase adds a valuable consumer category to Amazon's warehouse of goods and increases its presence in health care.

Amazon broke into the grocery business by buying Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in August 2017. The deal is a long-term bet by Amazon on a brick-and-mortar business. While the grocery business is a big part of the US economy, it remains a small percentage of online sales.

Company Background

Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1994. After months of preparation, he launched a website in July 1995 (Douglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies was its first book sale); it had sales of $20,000 a week by September. Bezos and his team kept working with the site, pioneering features that now seem mundane, such as one-click shopping, customer reviews, and e-mail order verification.

Amazon went public in 1997.

 

 

 

Amazon.com, Inc.

410 TERRY AVE N
Seattle, WA 98109-5210
Phone: 1 (206) 266-1000

Stats

Employer Type: Publicly Owned
Stock Symbol: AMZN
Stock Exchange: , NASDAQ
Chairman, President, and CEO: Jeffrey P. Bezos
SVP and CFO: Brian T. Olsavsky
CEO, Worldwide Consumer Business: Jeffrey A. Wilke
Employees (This Location): 1,000
Employees (All Locations): 647,500

Major Office Locations

Seattle, WA

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