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Apr 30, 2017 | Innovation

Amazon has changed the way America shops. In September 2016, Bloomberg reported that more than half of U.S. online consumers begin their product searches on’s site or mobile app.

That was an early distant warning. America’s retail establishment was not prepared for what was to happen next. As of Spring 2017, some 2,671 major U.S. retail stores will be closing. A complete list is in our Amazon Echo Look article. The resulting retail landscape looks drab, which is propelling a trend called Grayfields.

While Amazon’s business model at launch in the 1990s was not unique, it has slowly transformed itself into the innovator it is today. The latest innovation is an Instagram-optimized wardrobe consultant, called Amazon Echo Look.

Here some of the areas in which Amazon has pushed the innovation envelope:

  • AWS – Amazon’s first business model transformation came with the launch of Amazon Web Services in 2006. It was orthogonal thinking at its best. Why not offer cloud services using our well-tested platform? AWS is now the company’s biggest source of profits and is on track to bring in more than $10 billion a year in revenue.
  • Kiva Systems – The acquisition of Kiva Systems in 2012 for $775 million was a stroke of genius. As Bloomberg notes, Amazon has effectively shut out its competitors from the warehouse robot market. According to Amazon Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Customer Service Dave Clark, the addition of Kiva bots reduced operating expenses by about 20%.
  • Alexa – Its voice-command driven Echo speaker has become the hub of the connected home. Alexa has brought order to the cacophony of smart home devices, garnering the support of some 3,000 “skills” or apps.

Amazon’s technological prowess is buttressed by its product reviews. Few media pundits or analysts have a firm grasp on how far-reaching the impact of Amazon’s contributed content is. No wonder Amazon has become the default starting point for smart shopping.

And if that wasn’t enough, it has assembled the largest list of volume buyers in America, Amazon Prime, a list approaching some 80 million frequent shoppers. After merely “subsisting” for 20 years in the eyes of Wall Street, Amazon deserves to join our list of Ubercool Innovators. Inc.

Year (of first major innovation): 2006
Innovations: Cloud Service, Robots, Connected Home
Innovation Types: Product, Supply Chain

Michael Tchong

Michael Tchong

Founder, Author, Adjunct Professor, Futurist

Michael Tchong is a distinguished analyst renowned for his expertise in scrutinizing and dissecting societal, cultural, and technological trends. His invaluable insights serve as a cornerstone for guiding businesses and organizations towards more informed decisions regarding their products, services, and innovation strategies.
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