Amazon overtook Microsoft this week to become the world’s most valuable company.

Founded only 25 years ago by Jeff Bezos, the retail giant has seen meteoric growth in recent times, notably pushing its nose past the $1 trillion valuation mark for a brief moment in September 2018.

We thought this provided an opportune moment to take a look at its UX and CX design. Through a roundtable we gathered hot takes from the team to try and uncover how this retail rainforest became the largest on earth.

Gavin Sambles, Managing Director:

“Amazon have created a one stop shop for pretty much everything you could need and, in parallel, built trust with the consumer.  In addition, they have created a perception of being the benchmark for low pricing by creating what appears to be a competitive market place within Amazon. If you step back, the fact that an online retailer lists the same item multiple times would, as a concept, could seem ridiculous but the out-come is making the consumer feel like Amazon is driving the best price point.”

Megan Kurtenback, UX Consultant:

“Generally I think the companies that are successful at this level have invested and ingrained user-centred thinking into their company culture and all their processes. It isn’t something that is added on at the end to either prove a point or to tick a box. It’s about keeping the user at the heart of what they do and using ALL insights (not just the convenient ones) to drive innovation in the services that they provide and the products that they develop. For companies like Amazon, users aren’t an afterthought but are the focus.”

Neha Gupta, UX Researcher:

“I think Amazon sells “choices” and “hope” – plenty of choice in products from every walk of life on their platforms and lots of hope that as a user you are getting to choose what you want to spend your money on and how you want to use your time. This appeals to the need for individualisation and personalisation that are key drivers in creating a good user experience.

But Amazon is successful because they are able to back this up by developing robust infrastructure such as their own transportation fleet, that makes the interactions and experience with Amazon as easier and more convenient than their competitors.”

Emily Hudson, Senior UX Researcher:

“My first response to this was ‘I wonder how the rapid growth and sheer scale of Amazon has impacted, either positively or negatively, our local grass-root businesses?’

I wonder how businesses who have shifted to sell on Amazon over time feel about this? What things have they learned/done to enhance the customer interactions not owned by Amazon in their buying journey? How do these two things tie together? Where are the pinch points or opportunities?

I suspect there are two sides to the coin – Amazon opens up a potentially global marketplace for SMEs who may have never achieved this type of reach before. While on the flip-side, I assume its impact on the personalisation of their service to their customers is reduced (as Amazon owns the digital experience).”

Kristine Pitts, Head of Practice:

“Amazon for me has gone from being a place I ordered and sold books to where I do most of my shopping. I’m someone who has rejected products such as iPhone because it forces me to be tied into iTunes and other Apple products (not entirely, but Apple is not fond of playing well with others). However, I’m now in a position where I have almost everything from music to clothes to food stuff coming from or via Amazon.

I use Amazon music, I read Kindle books, I listen to Audible books, I watch Amazon Prime Video. I tried Amazon Fresh, but they’ve not really got that experience sorted yet, so I’m back with Ocado. I also have an Amazon Echo, but I’m still not quite sure what it’s for. And it’s happened almost without me noticing. Why? – one word, convenience. It’s quick AND free to deliver, it’s easy to buy – almost everything is in one place (including lots of stuff that I never thought I needed). I’ve been converted to most of this by stealth though the convenience of having everything in one place. The importance of convenience to the Amazon experience cannot be overestimated.”

ExperienceLab is a research and design agency specialising in helping organisations understand their customer needs and creating innovative solutions that are designed to succeed. Want to get in touch? Contact us here.