Product ubiquity, loss leaders and Amazonian data


A little more than two years ago, I founded a new publishing outfit: Motion Publishing. Having been through the publishing process twice before, I was eager to see if I could do better than some of the large legacy publishers often plagued by massive entrenched costs and antiquated ways of thinking. (Disclaimer: Motion published 101 Lightbulb Moments in Data Management in late 2011.)

Founding Motion was no epic achievement. Many other micropublishers have popped up over the last few years, emboldened by ambitious and antsy folks like me. Because of recent advances in print on demand (POD) technology, it's not too hard to run a small but profitable publishing company from the comforts of one's home.

Powerful Tools

In fact, the tools available to publishers and other "micro outfits" like Motion increase every day. Perhaps one of my favorites is AmazonAdvantage, a:

a self-service consignment program that enables you to promote and sell media products directly on Advantage is designed specifically for publishers, music labels, studios, authors, and other content owners who would like to source their products to, the world's leading on-line retailer. It gives you the opportunity to market your products to millions of customers.

For instance, when Barnes and Noble returned 30 unsold copies of The New Small to my doorstep, I didn't panic. I simply listed them on Amazon via Advantage. Now, random people from anywhere in the world can buy those 30 copies on Amazon and, quite frankly, they don't care about how Amazon procured them. But here's the rub: Amazon was buying The New Small from me and ostensibly selling them for less than the per-unit cost!

Now, Amazon does this quite a bit with many products. Jeff Bezos clearly understands the concept of a loss leader. Rumor had it that Amazon lost $50 on each unit of the original Kindle Fire sold (the theory: make up the difference - and then some - on books, movies, music and the like.)

At least for Amazon, there's an important corollary to loss leading: data ubiquity. For Amazon, it's worth a per-unit "loss" of $4 or so on my little book to reinforce its raison d'être with customers: Apart from books, customers can buy just about anything on the site. And this data ubiquity is one of the key reasons that its customers are so loyal. In fact, consumers view Amazon as much more trustworthy than Facebook and Google.

Simon Says: Make Your Data More Amazonian

Take the guesswork out of your internal and customer-facing systems. Put all of your data in a datamart, data warehouse, database, system or website that allows people to easily find what they want or need.


What say you?


About Author

Phil Simon

Author, Speaker, and Professor

Phil Simon is a keynote speaker and recognized technology expert. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. His ninth will be Slack For Dummies (April, 2020, Wiley) He consults organizations on matters related to strategy, data, analytics, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, The New York Times, and many other sites. He teaches information systems and analytics at Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business.

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