Since starting out as an online bookseller in 1998, Amazon.co.uk has expanded year on year and now offers customers more than 100 million items in over 30 product categories, ranging from health and beauty to sportswear and groceries.
The company’s phenomenal growth is due in part to its technological innovation. From Amazon 1-Click, which dramatically speeds up the ordering process, to Recommendations, which determines customers’ interests by examining their previous purchases and rated items, Amazon has been focused on making the online shopping experience as seamless as possible.
“Innovation is part of the Amazon DNA and over the past 15 years we have been constantly adding and refining technology that enhances and improves the experience of all our customers,” said Xavier Garambois, Vice President of EU Retail at Amazon.
“Our focus has always been on providing services that help customers find the right product for them, and then ensuring that ordering and delivery is a fast and seamless process. There are now eight fulfilment centres across the UK where tens of millions of products are readily available to be delivered to customers via processes that not only rely on great technology but also teams of great people.”
Garambois added that Amazon technology is also providing platforms for UK businesses and individuals to drive success.
“The Amazon Marketplace allows thousands of UK businesses to sell their products to customers across the UK and all over Europe whilst programmes like Kindle Direct Publishing are providing independent authors with a shop window of millions of readers.”
To celebrate Amazon UK’s 15th birthday, The Telegraph takes a look at some of the company’s greatest technological advances over the past 15 years:
1-Click is a fast and easy way to order from Amazon.co.uk with one click of a button. 1-Click is automatically enabled after the customer places their first order with Amazon.co.uk. You can set 1-Click so that it remembers key details such as delivery addresses.
Amazon.co.uk determines customers’ interests by examining the items they’ve purchased, items they’ve told Amazon they own, and items they’ve rated. Their activity is then compared with that of other customers on the site. Using this comparison, Amazon.co.uk is able to recommend other items that may interest them.
Customers can submit written or video reviews for any product listed on Amazon.co.uk to help other customers make purchase decisions. Customers are encouraged to share their opinions, both favourable and unfavourable as Amazon.co.uk wants customers to get the information they need to make smart buying choices.
Amazon Wish List
Amazon Wish List is a personalised list of all the things that customers would love to own from the Amazon.co.uk website. With Universal Wish List, customers can now add products from any website to their Amazon Wish List with one click. Friends and family are able to view the list and use it to purchase the perfect present.
Amazon AutoRip gives customers free MP3 versions of CDs and vinyl music they purchase from Amazon. When customers purchase AutoRip CDs and vinyl, the MP3 versions are automatically added to their Cloud Player libraries where they are available, free of charge, for immediate playback or download.
Additionally, customers who have purchased AutoRip albums at any time since Amazon.co.uk first opened its Music Store in 1999 will find MP3 versions of those albums in their Cloud Player libraries — also automatically and for free. More than 350,000 albums, including titles from every major record label, are available for AutoRip, and more titles are added all the time — customers can just look for the AutoRip logo.
Kindle is the bestselling e-reader family and this September, Amazon.co.uk launched the All New Paperwhite — the sixth generation of Kindle. The Kindle Fire family of tablets also launched in 2012 — the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD 7″, followed by the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ in 2013.
Print on demand / disc on demand
To avoid keeping stocks high, less commonly requested items can be printed or made on demand. This process takes place at the fulfilment centre and takes just minutes to complete. Orders can then be processed as normal. The finished item looks almost identical to the original book / disc.
Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services enables web developers to integrate Amazon.co.uk features and content into their websites. AWS provides start-up companies with low-cost, easy to use infrastructure needed to scale and grow any size business.
Amazon Cloud Drive
Amazon Cloud Drive lets customers securely store their digital files in the Amazon cloud and access them anywhere using the Cloud Drive desktop client or any web browser. Amazon customers automatically start with 5GB of Cloud Drive storage for free, with additional storage available from £6 a year for 20 GB.
Amazon Cloud Drive is built on Amazon Web Services, so customers need not worry about losing their photo collection or important documents to a hard drive crash.
The storage of items in a randomised order at fulfilment centres to maximise the chance of multiple items on the same order being near each other. The fulfilment centre management system knows the location of every item and is able to work out the shortest travel distance to pick the orders.
The SLAM (Scan, Label, Apply, Manifest)
At the end of the packing process, packages move along conveyor belts to the SLAM where the package is weighed to ensure it is the anticipated weight (and that therefore the right items are inside). The SLAM also scans the barcode on the package and prints and adds an address label to the package.
This ensures customer confidentiality, as this is the first time that a customer’s address is matched up with their package. The whole process takes less than 1 second per package.
Amazon Storyteller is a new application from Amazon Studios that lets you turn a movie script into a storyboard. You choose the backgrounds, characters, and props to visually tell a story. A successful storyboard can tell the full story of a script, or capture its essence in short form, like a trailer. The idea is to build an audience for your story and see how people respond to it.
Amazon Studios is the original movie and series production arm of Amazon. Amazon Studios is developing feature films and episodic series in a new way; one that’s open to great ideas from creators — and audiences — around the world.
Kindle and Kindle Direct Publishing is revolutionising the books world by giving authors the opportunity to publish their books and earn a larger share of revenue with Amazon.co.uk’s 70 per cent option. Many authors are using this as a way to get their books in the hands of readers across Europe.
A crowdsourcing Internet marketplace that enables individuals or businesses (known as Requesters) to co-ordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks that computers are currently unable to do.
The Requesters are able to post tasks such as choosing the best among several photographs of a store-front, writing product descriptions, or identifying performers on music CDs. Workers (called Providers in Mechanical Turk’s Terms of Service, or, more colloquially, Turkers) can then browse among existing tasks and complete them for a monetary payment set by the Requester.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.