Close your eyes for a minute and picture a company who sells just about every consumer product on planet Earth and can ship it to your home for about the same price as buying it directly from a store. The image in your mind could be two companies – either Amazon today or Sears from the late 1800s. No, I’m not going crazy . . . and yes, forlorn Sears with its deceased mail order catalog business was actually the original direct-to-your-door-retailer.
So why bring up this analogy? AdWeek draws an interesting comparison between Sears at the height of its retail prowess and Amazon today. Then they chart the missteps created by Sears’s failure to really understand the future of commerce – like when they finally closed their catalog business a year before Amazon started doing business because they were convinced the home delivery business model was dead. The conclusion of the article lists the threats to Amazon from in-sector competitors like Alibaba and Tencent, who are arguabally playing the eCommerce game as well if not better than Jeff Bezos and team right now.
It’s a longer read, but a very interesting article for anyone passionate about business strategy. It also goes to show the importance of understanding history (even from the 1800s!), so that we don’t repeat the retail marketing mistakes of the past.