You might think of Amazon first-and-foremost as a retailer, but the tech giant’s ambitions stretch way beyond getting books, films and other knickknacks to your door. The Seattle-headquartered firm says it hired another 10,000 workers in Europe last year and plans to take on another 2,500 in the UK 2016 - and they won’t all be put to work packing boxes in gargantuan fulfilment centres.
‘[We] plan to create several thousand more [jobs] in 2016 at all education, experience and skill levels, from speech and linguistic scientists to digital media experts to fulfilment centre and customer service associates,’ said Xavier Garambois, its VP for EU retail.
As well as expanding its retail operations the company is keen to beef up its Amazon Web Services division (a cloud computing service for businesses), get more consumers using its Fire tablets and sign up subscribers to its Prime scheme, which offers online video and music streaming and ebooks, as well as free next-day delivery.
It’s also not content in sticking to the Argos-like range of products which it currently dominates the market for. Once it was all about books but now Amazon wants to make a name for itself in fashion and even into the troubled grocery sector – as if Tesco et al. Needed any more problems to deal with.
Those ambitions won’t be easy to fulfil though. Delivering fresh food is a much more complicated task than shipping tools or cushions. Even with the help of online grocery trailblazer Ocado, which is reportedly planning a partnership with, Amazon will struggle to carve out a large piece of the crowded market for itself.
On the fashion side, it’s not hard to imagine people using Amazon to buy unbranded t-shirts, underwear and other low-cost threads. In the US, its number of clothing and accessories ‘SKUs’ (stock-keeping units) reportedly soared by 90% in the year to December to 30 million units. But for many people splashing out £150 for a coat is an indulgence that’s going to be enjoyed more within the luxury black and white lines of Asos than on a generic and commoditised website like Amazon. The upward trajectory of Jeff Bezos’s behemoth is continuing, but it’s still a long way from utter global domination.