The last time I called customer service at Amazon, I was greeted by a cheerful employee who said, “Thank you for being a loyal Amazon customer. You have placed 2,419 orders with Amazon. How can I help you?”
My jaw dropped: 2,419 orders? I have been shopping at Amazon since 1997, but who knew then how Amazon would change our shopping habits?
My initial orders were for books, but Amazon anticipated that I and other consumers would be open to shopping for others things, too. Over the years, I’ve also bought televisions, computers, electric shavers, printer ink, shoes, food, and many other items from Amazon.
In Human Action, Ludwig von Mises writes,
The ultimate source of profits is always the foresight of future conditions. Those who succeeded better than others in anticipating future events and in adjusting their activities to the future state of the market reap profits because they are in a position to satisfy the most urgent needs of the public.
Amazon has saved me a lot of money. It has saved me hours of shopping time, gasoline, and wear and tear on my car. As crowded as roads are in urban areas, the growth of online shopping has made them less crowded, reducing automobile emissions. Perhaps I have avoided car accidents by shopping from home.
What is the secret behind the success of companies that serve consumers better than others? Perhaps it is empathy.
Because of Amazon, my light-selling book, The Inner-Work of Leadership,will be available indefinitely even if it sells only a couple of hundred copies a year. Had I to rely on traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores, my book would have long since become unavailable…