Amazon Business Strategy: cost leadership & customer centricity

By John Dudovskiy
March 22, 2022

Amazon-Business-StrategyAmazon business strategy can be described as cost leadership taken to the extreme. Range, price and convenience are placed at the core of Amazon competitive advantage. The global online retailer operates with a razor thin profit margin and succeeds due to a combination of economies of scale, innovation of various business processes and a constant business diversification.

Founder and first CEO Jeff Bezos believes in focusing as a business strategy on things that do not change. At the outset of the business he reasoned that people always want low prices, selection and fast delivery. Exceeding customer expectations on these points has remained as the core of Amazon business strategy. Innovation and technology the online retail behemoth uses are simply instruments to pursue this core strategy.

Moreover, Amazon business strategy is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking.[1] The following four points constitute the cornerstones of Amazon business strategy:

1. Regularly entering into new niches and segments. Started only as an online shop for selling physical books in 1997, today Amazon sells anything that can be sold online in the global scale. Sophisticated global logistics represents one of the solid bases of Amazon competitive advantage. The tech giant has used this advantage extensively to engage in successful business diversification. Recently, the company launched Amazon Home Services, a simple way to buy and schedule local professional services as a continuation of its diversification strategy.[2]

Currently, the tech giant operates in increasing range of industries including e-commerce, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, consumer electronics, entertainment, digital distribution, B2B distribution, self-driving cars and supermarkets.  As the largest internet company by revenue in the world, Amazon frequently disrupts the industries it chooses to enter.

The e-commerce giant occasionally finds new niches and segments accidentally, while looking for solutions to problems faced by the business. Amazon Web Services (AWS) can be shown as a stark example for this. Specifically, back in year 2000 Amazon was struggling to keep up with high growth speed of the business and scale problems. The company developed internal systems for its own needs to run infrastructure tasks such as computing, storage and database. Moreover, by 2003 the company had become highly skilled at running reliable, scalable, cost-effective data centres out of need. Around that time, the management figured out that many other companies faced the same scaling and data management issues. Accordingly, AWS was developed to help companies to deal with these issues in a profitable way for Amazon.

2. Strengthening Amazon ecosystem. Ecosystem is placed at the core of Amazon corporate strategy. The online retail behemoth attempts to create linkage between its growing range of products and services and achieve synergy in operations. Ecosystem benefits the e-commerce giant in two ways. Firstly, it reduces the cost of operations by achieving a scale and creating operational synergy. Secondly, successful ecosystem makes it easier for customers purchasing from Amazon to use additional products and services offered by the company.

Amazon ecosystem consists of merchants, writers, reviewers, publishers, apps developers, and the information market of commentators, analysts, journalists and feature writers who get the word out about opportunity on the Amazon platform.[3] Amazon senior leadership engages in deriving maximum benefit from each component of company ecosystem, as well as, strengthening relationship between the components.

Therefore, due to aggressive expansion of range of products and services within Amazon ecosystem, it would not be correct to classify its business operations within a single industry. As it has been noted by company’s vice president of user experience “Amazon is in the business of taking the right decisions for customers”.

3. Uncompromised focus towards customer service. Customer obsession can be specified as a cornerstone of Amazon business strategy. The largest internet retailer in the world by revenue focuses on long-term growth rather than short-term profit. In its attempt to “seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company”,[4] Amazon does not bother with the competition excessively. Instead, it has been noted that “Amazon puts a chair in every boardroom to represent the customer — a physical reminder to innovate on their behalf.”[5]

4. Focusing on Amazon leadership values. Gaining maximum contribution from human resources is another source of Amazon competitive advantage. Working for Amazon is highly challenging experience and employees are expected to take on heavy workload, often sacrificing work-life balance. Amazon leadership values consisting of 16 principles, such as customer obsession, insisting on the highest standard and diving deep, play an instrumental role in terms of increasing the input from human resources. Inc. Report contains the above analysis of Amazon business strategy. The report illustrates the application of the major analytical strategic frameworks in business studies such as SWOT, PESTEL, Porter’s Five Forces, Value Chain analysis, Ansoff Matrix and McKinsey 7S Model on Amazon. Moreover, the report contains analyses of Amazon leadership, organizational structure and organizational culture. The report also comprises discussions of Amazon marketing strategy, ecosystem and addresses issues of corporate social responsibility. Inc. Report 2022


[1] Annual Report (2016) Inc.

[2] Hallam, S. (2017) “Amazon’s Business Strategy: 6 examples of latest trends in ecommerce” Hallam, Available at:

[3] Shaughnessy, H. (2012) “Why Amazon Succeeds” Forbes, Available at:

[4] Annual Report (2016) Inc.

[5] Marder, L. (2018) “Amazon Growth Strategy: How to Run a Multi-Billion Dollar Business Like Jeff Bezos” BIG COMMERCE, Available at:

Category: Strategy
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