Case Study: Amazon.com

Amazon.com, a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth’s Biggest Selection.

Amazon.com seeks to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.

Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as health and personal care, jewelry and watches, gourmet food, sports and outdoors, apparel and accessories, books, music, DVDs, electronics and office, toys and baby, and home and garden. [Source: Amazon.com, Inc., December 2007]

Things to read:

Questions to consider:

  • What are the benefits and limitations of Amazon’s online retail model?
  • How does Amazon.com change the market for books?
  • Amazon has a huge catalog of products for sale. How does the design of Amazon’s web site facilitate the user’s effort to locate a particular product?
  • What is collaborative filtering? How does Amazon use this technique to encourage sales?
  • Amazon lets its customers sell used books along side the new versions. Is this a reasonable business practice, of does it unfairly undermine the market for new books?

Intellectual Property

Selected registered trademarks:

  • AMAZON.COM ®;
  • AMAZON.COM BOOKS ®;
  • EARTH’S BIGGEST SELECTION ®;
  • IF IT’S IN PRINT, IT’S IN STOCK ®;
  • 1-CLICK ®;
  • Search real-time for U.S. trademarks.

Selected patents:

  • 6,525,747 — Method and system for conducting a discussion relating to an item;
  • 6,029,141 — Internet-based customer referral system (Affiliate program);
  • 5,999,924 — Method for producing sequenced queries;
  • 5,963,949 — Method for data gathering around forms and search barriers;
  • 5,960,411 — Method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network (One-click purchase);
  • 5,826,258 — Method and apparatus for structuring the querying and interpretation of semistructured information;
  • 5,727,163 — Secure method for communicating credit card data when placing an order on a non-secure network;
  • 5,715,399 — Secure method and system for communicating a list of credit card numbers over a non-secure network;
  • Search real-time for recent U.S. patents granted to Amazon.com.