Lately it seems that all my days begin the same way. I start out wondering what's for breakfast and then the next question on my mind is, "What will Amazon launch today?"
Anyone following the retail industry—or anyone even somewhat aware of what's going on in the world—cannot escape the fact that Amazon is on the fast track to launching new products and services. Is Jeff Bezos barreling down the innovation track too quickly, or will his inventive fast pace pay off big for the company in a few years?
Amazon is trying hard to beat everyone else to the punch. And thus far, it seems they are succeeding. But rolling out and testing does not mean these programs are tweaked, perfected or even profitable—yet. What it does do is create a buzz, win over customers, and get other retailers to speed up their pace in order to compete.
Bezos wastes no time in coming up with solutions to retail problems that other competitors have been sitting on for years. And he's not afraid to take on anyone: Google, Apple, grocery stores, warehouse chains, e-commerce sites—is there any retailer untouched by his innovations?
This summer is baking with Amazon ideas and launches.
Just this week Amazon launched Local Register, a card reader and mobile app that assists local businesses in accepting credit and debit cards from a smartphone or tablet.
Earlier this month, the e-retailer expanded the "Get it Today" same-day delivery capabilities to reach six new metro areas with more than 1 million items.
Then there was the announcement of a partnership with Blackhawk Network to improve gift card redemption. Another reason to use Amazon's Wallet app, the platform allowed shoppers to store, redeem and check balances on gift cards from major retailers.
All of this of course came just a month after Amazon launched its first smartphone, Fire, and announced incentives to get programmers moving on creating apps ASAP.
Early summer Prime members became privy to Amazon's library of streaming music.
And don't forget the retailer's recent jump into monetizing social media on Twitter. Shoppers can now place items in their shopping basket by responding to any tweet with an item bearing the hashtag #AmazonCart.
But somewhere buried in all of these innovations are the facts. Quarterly reports in July revealed the numbers. While Amazon's sales were up 23 percent from the same quarter a year prior, the retailer still posted a net loss of $126 million.
But hey, there are bound to be a few bumps in the road, one in the form of an on-going feud with Hachette publishing over pricing negotiations.
The retailer did start offering incentives to Prime members to slow down their deliveries in an effort to reduce escalating two-day shipping costs.
So the question remains: Should Amazon slow down? Are there just too many changes and innovations for consumers and retailers to digest and for the company to monetarily support?
My answer is: No, why should they? As long as investors continue to fund Bezos' ideas, he will continue to press on and lead the retail world. In fact, his drive is forcing the competition to step up, to the benefit of consumers everywhere. Other retailers will have to adapt to offer same-day shipments of food, music and clothing at prices that Americans will accept and to increase their services and programs for smartphones that make life a little easier.
And the key to Amazon's ultimate success may not lie in the monetary numbers alone, but in the loyalty numbers.
Amazon continually tops consumer lists for online purchases. It recently ranked No. 9 on the National Retail Federation's list, becoming the only pure e-commerce retailer to make the grade.
Amazon is building a satisfied customer base of millions—worth much more than revenue alone, at least in the short run.-Jacqueline