04 Aug Why Amazon Has Mastered the Art of the Business Contract
We can all agree that Amazon, the preeminent retailer of pretty much everything, is a success story however you spin it. Under the leadership of Jeff Bezos as CEO, the Goliath has cornered the market in more ways than one. And, just when you thought they were finished, they corner markets completely alien to them, such as purchasing organic foods super-company “Whole Foods.” At the captain’s chair of Amazon is Jeff Bezos, the fearless captain steering his ship into the unknown and skyrocketing the value of its shares in the process. But what is it about Jeff Bezos that makes Amazon such a force to be reckoned with? Well, it’s simple: Bezos knows contracts.
What is a business contract at its core other than a simple promise by a company? A promise to provide to the client or customer something of value in exchange for compensation by the client or customer. The reason why Amazon is so successful is because they understand what so many companies overcomplicate: the fact that every time a transaction takes place, there is a business contract at its core, and the chances of that transaction taking place again and again depend completely upon whether the client feels that the company has honored the contract.
What makes Jeff Bezos so brilliant is that he is aware that the clients of his company define the contract, and not the other way around. Put another way, he understands that his clients and customers have collectively decided that the terms of the contract are as follows: “We will purchase products from Amazon if Amazon makes the process more convenient than the previous method of buying products.”
JEFF BEZOS SIMPLIFIED THE BUYING EXPERIENCE
Instead of trying to write Amazon’s contract, he allowed his clients to create the contractual terms they desire, and he has made that contract the mission and the very center of Amazon: “to make the process of purchasing products so convenient, that our clients will feel that we have adequately carried out our promise to them.” Jeff Bezos makes this the center of Amazon’s mission, and they achieve it exceptionally. Anyone who is either a member of their Prime Service or order products frequently knows it to be true: as a company, Amazon goes out of its way to make every part of the process (from buying to returning) as easy as one could ask for, with the added benefit that you can do it from your bed, office, or anywhere else your smart phone can access Amazon.
The proof is in the pudding. Rolls-Royce is another company that exemplifies this, and has done for many decades. Rolls-Royce continues to sell cars that satisfy a business contract that they allow their customers to put forward: “we will purchase a car from Rolls-Royce, and Rolls-Royce will fabricate a car for us with state of the practice craftsmanship and the finest materials.” Although Amazon and Jeff Bezos or Rolls-Royce are not the only examples, they are particularly relevant ones. They, perhaps better than anyone recently, illustrate the importance of keeping things simple and getting things right. They signal the undeniable truth to any business owner, from the vacation business to a law firm, or a real estate company to jewelry business: allow your clients to tell you what they expect in a business contract, then do everything in your power to deliver it.