2013 was another expansive year for Amazon, the online retail giant that aims to be "Earth's most customer-centric company." With responsiveness at the heart of its ethos, Amazon is quickly becoming one of the world's most accessible and approachable brands. It continues to grow in its core business, through services like Amazon Prime. Expansions on popular product lines, like the new Kindle Paperwhite and Fire Phone, brought more customers into Amazon's ecosystem, and the brand showed its commitment to users' real-world experience by collaborating with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to approve the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing.
Edging out further beyond its retail core to make a bigger play in the entertainment sector, the brand entered into a content licensing agreement with HBO and introduced Fire TV, a breakthrough service for accessing Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu, and other streaming-video services via HDTV. In its continuing quest to become the "everything store," Amazon is also boldly pursuing one of online commerce's final frontiers: groceries. Its AmazonFresh trucks are already familiar sights in major cities throughout California in the U.S., but, with aspirations to catch up to Walmart in the food sector, the company is thinking big about merging grocery and other shopping into one seamless experience for customers around the world.
To expand its relationships with small and medium-sized businesses, Amazon launched Amazon Local Register to easily and cost-effectively manage their customer payments. The brand is also showing its B2B strength with Amazon Web Services (AWS), now widely considered the market leader in cloud-based services.
Looking to the future, Amazon may get a lift if it gains approval from the FAA to implement Amazon Prime Air, a drone-based delivery system currently in development. Also, experiments in customer personalization, such as the AmazonSmile interface that allows customers to donate portions of their purchases to the charity of their choice, demonstrate a readiness to personalize experiences directly at the individual user level-a likely starting point for more customized and robust experiences to come. All together, Amazon's trajectory reveals the scope of its aspirations: Customer-centric business knows no boundaries and the moves of the past year indicate that the ambition for its evolving ecosystem is similarly unconstrained.