The main crux of this post is about whether a company can remain innovative as it ages. I want to use Sears and Amazon as study points. Being a U.S. history buff I can’t help but draw a parallel between Sears in the early 20th century and Amazon a hundred years later. One of the striking things about Amazon beside their explosive product line is the speed at which they deliver their products. For $79/year you can get unlimited 2 day delivery at no cost. I must admit I am a major customer who places orders probably 30+ times a year for the last several years.
Because it wasn’t available on-line I recently ordered a drawer unit for my micro-RV remodel from Sears. I was told that it would take 2 – 3 weeks for delivery. In Amazon time which is now the norm for me that is an outrageously long. Somewhere along the line Sears just lost their innovative edge. The Sears store in Bloomington just closed down so now I have to travel about 50 miles to pick up my cabinet. It is either that or pay $70 to have it delivered!
I find it ironic that just as Sears was terminating their catalog sales a young Jeff Bezos was planning on starting one on-line. For 2015 Sears revenue decreased by $6.1 billion to $25 billion while Amazon revenues were $107 billion. I wonder what would have happened in 1993 if Sears had decided to aggressively take their catalog on-line instead of abandoning it? I am personally convinced that on-line sales is the wave of the future. Why do I need to get in the car, drive to a store, and lug my purchases home when all I have to do instead is just click a few buttons and in two days it appears on my doorstep.