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The growing trend of online shopping is taking over in a powerful way that is making brick and mortar shops a thing of the past and Amazon has the numbers to prove it. CEO and founder of the online retail giant Jeff Bezos told investors in his latest annual shareholder letter that the company has reached 100 million Amazon Prime members. Business professionals are calling the 21st annual shareholder letter a must-read.
The Amazon CEO stressed the importance of high standards to a successful business and by setting high standards companies are able to live up to "ever-rising customer expectations." Bezos wrote in the letter, "How do you stay ahead of ever-rising customer expectations? There's no single way to do it – it's a combination of many things. But high standards (widely deployed and at all levels of detail) are certainly a big part of it."
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The letter brought the record-breaking announcement that Amazon Prime members now exceed 100 million members worldwide. The company shipped over five billion items to Prime members in 2017 alone. Amazon also sold more Echo devices last year than any other year to the tune of "tens of millions". Amazon Prime subscriptions cost $99 and include a host of perks from access to Prime Video and cloud storage to free shipping.
At an average cost of $99 to over 100 million members, Amazon is set to cash in on $10,000,000,000 in Prime sales alone. While this was just a quick matter of multiplying the cost of Prime times the number of members and doesn't take into account costs and other factors, it still gives an inkling of the amount of money Amazon is generating.
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Bezos elaborated on his idea of high standards saying, "So, the four elements of high standards as we see it: they are teachable, they are domain specific, you must recognize them, and you must explicitly coach realistic scope. Building a culture of high standards is well worth the effort, and there are many benefits." To better illustrate his point, the Amazon CEO told a story of a friend who visited a handstand coach.
"A close friend recently decided to learn to do a perfect free-standing handstand. No leaning against a wall. Not for just a few seconds. Instagram good. She decided to start her journey by taking a handstand workshop at her yoga studio. She then practiced for a while but wasn't getting the results she wanted. So, she hired a handstand coach. Yes, I know what you're thinking, but evidently, this is an actual thing that exists. In the very first lesson, the coach gave her some wonderful advice. "Most people," he said, "think that if they work hard, they should be able to master a handstand in about two weeks. The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. If you think you should be able to do it in two weeks, you're just going to end up quitting." Unrealistic beliefs on scope – often hidden and undiscussed – kill high standards. To achieve high standards yourself or as part of a team, you need to form and proactively communicate realistic beliefs about how hard something is going to be – something this coach understood well."
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If only one thing is to be learned from the Amazon shareholder letter, it is that the company isn't going anywhere anytime soon and their steady growth is continuing to add up. If you are interested in reading the entire Amazon shareholder letter <a href="https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1018724/000119312518121161/d456916dex991.htm">you can find it here.</a>
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