Tech Line

The Real Secret to Amazon’s Success

Staggering, isn’t it? While Amazon creates enormous revenue in a number of ways—all of which are booming—the serious money still comes from the online stores business.

Take this year’s Prime Day, for instance. According to a CNBC story, total online retail sales in the United States during Amazon’s 48-hour Prime Day surpassed $11 billion—6.1 percent higher than overall e-commerce transactions generated in 2020. The total was slightly more than last year’s entire Cyber Monday, which was the busiest digital sales day on record.

Of course, nobody should be surprised. Those who were paying attention back in the mid-‘90s—when selling books was the e-commerce innovator’s original raison d’etre—might recall the story about what the Amazon logo means. It is generally believed that it was created to indicate that the site would one day sell everything “from A to Z” (the arrow connects the two letters). It is also said that that arrow represents the smile that customers will experience by shopping on the website.

With time and resources, one could determine how much Amazon spends for itself on marketing and advertising its e-commerce business. The reality is, not many have to be reminded anymore that, if you want that thing you want delivered to your doorstep tomorrow or sooner, is the only place to go.

So how did this happen? Yes, people have always loved to shop. Yes, there are bargains to be had—sometimes—with Prime. Yes, Amazon really does sell just about everything from A to Z. But there has to be something more, something ineffable, that’s responsible for its unheard-of e-commerce success. I think it might be this: Amazon lets people create, any time, any place, little “magical moments” of delight for themselves or others, while simultaneously bringing together the best of the digital and analog worlds.

Going to the mall or to local, downtown shops has—or had—a place in the world. It was a little adventure, almost a brief vacation. Whatever its charms, however, the events of the last year, as well as the rise of e-commerce, have made such trips less and less important in people’s lives.  

A little mystery

Today, people just rub the magic Amazon Prime lantern, and whatever they wish—for themselves or others—almost magically arrives at their door. Whether people buy things for themselves or get them as presents, or send them to others, their arrival creates moments of delight—even if you know it’s coming. And in many homes, there are so many people using one Prime account that half the time nobody knows what’s in the box or who it might be for. A little mystery makes the day more exciting.

So, for advertising, Amazon might as well just say: “Hey, buy something from us today and give yourself or someone else a magical moment tomorrow.”

Some of us have learned from this. And while we cannot all be behemoth e-commerce juggernauts, we can take advantage of this insight, which, for PFL, takes the form of The Hybrid Experience. In fact, Amazon might be the perfect hybrid experience engine by combining the best of digital and analog.

People are pretty done with certain parts of the analog shopping experience. They have traded “find the keys, get in the car, drive through traffic and weather, park (Hey, where’d we leave the car?), watch out for the fender bender, doesn’t fit? Damn, gotta go back, where’s the receipt. . . .” for, “slippers on, coffee hot, into the den, sale today with coupon code—Great! I’ll order two. Done, let’s watch some cat videos.”

Delivering respect

It would be totally uneconomical and physically impossible to utilize Amazon as your marketing fulfillment and delivery mechanism, so PFL has created something just for you. Your most valuable prospects—the leaders, decision-makers, and deal approvers—need to feel seen and acknowledged. Appreciated, not obligated. Their time is precious, and you must deliver value to stand out. We’re not sending gifts, we’re delivering respect.  

PFL has created a way to deliver authentic human experiences—much like those Amazon serves up—by orchestrating impactful direct mail in an ecosystem fueled by data. We bring the measurement, personalization, and predictability people expect from digital to direct mail. We amplify growth for businesses. 

So think of us as your own private Amazon. Maybe we don’t have everything from A to Z, but we certainly can put a smile on the face of your customers and prospects, and that’s when the fun begins for everybody.