编制上述报告的市场研究公司Slice Intelligence发布了一篇博客文章，指出看似普通所以经常被忽视的点（也是有段时间我反复提的）：“亚马逊在拼尽全力消除购物过程的痛点。”换句话说，在消除购物流程不畅方面，亚马逊领先全球。正是亚马逊发明了一键点击式购物并将申请了专利。总想着消除痛点可能有点无聊，但价值巨大。价值到底多大？Slice Intelligence估算，在去年美国电商领域销售额增长中，仅亚马逊一家就占了53%，其他数千家电商只能争夺剩下不到一半市场。
降低购物不畅方面，我最喜欢举亚马逊的一键购物实体按钮Dash Button当例子。看上去像某种菱形的塑料片，长约7.6厘米，背面有粘贴的双面胶。正面可以看到产品名称，比如汰渍洗衣粉，还有一个按钮。如果是亚马逊付费服务Prime的会员，你可以设定默认的购物数量和支付方式，将写有洗衣粉的Dash Button按钮贴在洗衣房的墙上（任何地方都可以）。洗衣粉快用完的时候按一下按钮，两天后一盒汰渍洗衣粉就会送到家门口。
Dash Button刚面世的时候曾被人嘲笑。想象一下，一种装置竟然只能做一件事。可亚马逊现在为各种产品推出了几百款Dash Button，可以购买狗粮、肥皂、薄脆饼干、电池和电脑打印纸等。显然，有些人要认真对待了：“你知道一键下单吗？太厉害了。”
The latest evidence of Jeff Bezos’s strategic genius arrives in a new report revealing Amazon’s utter dominance of e-commerce. It’s worth every business leader’s study. This is the world’s fifth-most-valuable publicly traded company, worth $395 billion—more than AT&T and Verizon combined, for example. How did it get there?
A blog post from Slice Intelligence, which compiled the report, makes a point that is too often ignored because it seems so mundane (and a point I’ve been harping on for some time): “Amazon maintains an obsessive focus on removing every pain point from the buying process.” To put it another way, Amazon is the world champion at taking out friction. This is the company that invented and patented one-click buying. This obsession may seem boring, but it’s hugely valuable. How valuable? Slice calculates that of all the growth in U.S. e-commerce last year, Amazon alone captured 53%. Thousands of others had to fight over the rest.
My favorite example of friction reduction is what Amazon calls dash buttons. They’re lozenge-shaped plastic devices about three inches long with adhesive backing. On the front is the name of a product—say, Tide laundry detergent—and a button. Assuming you’re an Amazon Prime member, you set up a default order quantity and a payment method. Then you stick the dash button to your laundry room’s wall (or wherever you want). When you run low on detergent, you just hit the button. Bam—two days later a box of Tide is on your doorstep.
Dash buttons were ridiculed when introduced; imagine, a device that does one thing and one thing only. But Amazon now offers hundreds of them for an endless array of products—dog food, soap, crackers, batteries, computer paper. Apparently someone over there got to thinking, “You know that one-click ordering? It’s just too hard.”
Another friction-reducer emphasized in the Slice report is Amazon’s shipping advantage. Even as other retailers have reduced their average shipping time over the past two years, Amazon has remained faster by two to three days. It will apparently do anything to maintain that advantage. Thus its pioneering work on drone delivery, its recently unearthed patent application for a blimp-based warehouse, and this week’s announcement that it will build its own air cargo hub in northern Kentucky, having previously begun assembling its own delivery network with cargo planes and trucks.
Even Walmart, with about quadruple Amazon’s revenue, struggles to fight back. This week it dropped its fee-based free shipping offer, an attempt to compete with Prime, and replaced it with a simple offer of free two-day shipping for orders over $35. Trouble is, this offer isn’t nearly as sticky as Prime; it can be undercut by any competitor that offers a lower minimum order. But Prime members don’t worry about minimum order size – there isn’t any. They just order whatever they want, knowing it will arrive in two days for free. Simple. No friction. And they get much more for their $99 annual membership, including free streaming music and videos, occasional free Kindle books, and other benefits. It’s hard to give all that up.
The digital revolution is creating a radically more friction-free economy. Amazon understands the implications better than any other company, and catching it is getting harder for its competitors by the day.