Award winner: Amazon Goes Global 2020

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This case won the Strategy and General Management category at The Case Centre Awards and Competitions 2022. #CaseAwards2022

Who – the protagonist

E-commerce giant Amazon.

What?

The well-told story of Amazon has seen the US company evolve from a small Internet bookstore in 1995 to one of the largest online retailers on the planet.

Amazon has expanded its offerings from books to groceries, apparel media content, e-book readers (the Kindle), cloud computing digital advertising, and a whole range of e-commerce product categories.

In 2019, Amazon’s revenue stood at $280.5 billion.

amazon package

Why?

By early 2020, Amazon had significant operating subsidiaries in more than 14 countries.

Markets such as the United Kingdom and Japan were a huge success but countries like China, where Amazon stopped major operations in 2019, and Brazil were harder to crack.

As COVID-19 struck, Amazon had to decide whether to continue its international expansion, focus on growing in existing countries, or concentrate on new market opportunities.

When?

Amazon’s first overseas success arrived in the UK, entering in 1998, while their presence in Japan started in 2000.

But its foray into China in 2004 only lasted 15 years, as competitors Alibaba and JD had far quicker logistics operations, and more intensive marketing strategies.

Furthermore, Amazon entered Brazil in 2012. Thus far it has just under 1% of the market share, and ranks only tenth in terms of online retail market share in the country.

Where?

Amazon is a truly global operation, holding a presence in North, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Key quote

“There’s no reason for a consumer to pick Amazon because they’re not going to be able to ship things as fast as Tmall or JD.”
Ker Zhang, marketing specialist, talking to Reuters.

What next?

Amazon faced both opportunities and challenges.

Like in 2004, should it take a break from international expansion and strengthen its hold on countries such as India? If not, what other markets should they target? South Korea is home to the sixth-largest market for e-commerce, while Russia ranks 12th.

Meanwhile, what effect could COVID-19 have on Amazon’s future globalisation activities?

AUTHOR PERSPECTIVE 

This is the first award for authors Jing and Yong, and for SFU Beedie School of Business and Lee Business School.

Winning the award

Jing and Yong said: “We are passionate about case writing and case teaching. We are very honoured and humbled to receive this award. It definitely encourages us to devote more efforts to case writing and teaching in the future.”

Case popularity

Jing and Yong continued: “Amazon is a world leading technology company, and the pandemic has increased its popularity. Our case documents the many ups and downs Amazon has experienced in expanding into global markets over the last two decades or so. The case therefore presents an excellent opportunity to learn about the fundamental aspects of international strategy, including where, when, and how to expand internationally.”

Writing the case

They added: “The case documents all the international entries of Amazon as of 2020. It captures the geographic, cultural, political, and economic conditions across different countries that Amazon has entered, and highlights the opportunities and challenges for Amazon in these countries moving forward.

“Amazon is a global technology company, with expansive business lines and global footprints. The main challenge for us as case writers is to maintain a balance between offering a whole picture of Amazon’s globalisation efforts and providing some rich and interesting details.”

Amazon Air

Case writing advice

Jing and Yong explained: “We’d recommend focusing on historical facts and evidence but end the case with an ongoing challenge that impacts the future of the focal entity, and invites debate among academics, practitioners, and students.”

Teaching the case

Jing and Yong concluded: “The teaching experience has been fantastic. The case has been well received by both our MBA (including EMBA) students and undergraduate students, and there are so many interesting aspects to discuss and debate on.”

THE CASE 

The case

Who – the protagonist

E-commerce giant Amazon.

What?

The well-told story of Amazon has seen the US company evolve from a small Internet bookstore in 1995 to one of the largest online retailers on the planet.

Amazon has expanded its offerings from books to groceries, apparel media content, e-book readers (the Kindle), cloud computing digital advertising, and a whole range of e-commerce product categories.

In 2019, Amazon’s revenue stood at $280.5 billion.

amazon package

Why?

By early 2020, Amazon had significant operating subsidiaries in more than 14 countries.

Markets such as the United Kingdom and Japan were a huge success but countries like China, where Amazon stopped major operations in 2019, and Brazil were harder to crack.

As COVID-19 struck, Amazon had to decide whether to continue its international expansion, focus on growing in existing countries, or concentrate on new market opportunities.

When?

Amazon’s first overseas success arrived in the UK, entering in 1998, while their presence in Japan started in 2000.

But its foray into China in 2004 only lasted 15 years, as competitors Alibaba and JD had far quicker logistics operations, and more intensive marketing strategies.

Furthermore, Amazon entered Brazil in 2012. Thus far it has just under 1% of the market share, and ranks only tenth in terms of online retail market share in the country.

Where?

Amazon is a truly global operation, holding a presence in North, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

Key quote

“There’s no reason for a consumer to pick Amazon because they’re not going to be able to ship things as fast as Tmall or JD.”
Ker Zhang, marketing specialist, talking to Reuters.

What next?

Amazon faced both opportunities and challenges.

Like in 2004, should it take a break from international expansion and strengthen its hold on countries such as India? If not, what other markets should they target? South Korea is home to the sixth-largest market for e-commerce, while Russia ranks 12th.

Meanwhile, what effect could COVID-19 have on Amazon’s future globalisation activities?

AUTHOR PERSPECTIVE 

Author perspective

This is the first award for authors Jing and Yong, and for SFU Beedie School of Business and Lee Business School.

Winning the award

Jing and Yong said: “We are passionate about case writing and case teaching. We are very honoured and humbled to receive this award. It definitely encourages us to devote more efforts to case writing and teaching in the future.”

Case popularity

Jing and Yong continued: “Amazon is a world leading technology company, and the pandemic has increased its popularity. Our case documents the many ups and downs Amazon has experienced in expanding into global markets over the last two decades or so. The case therefore presents an excellent opportunity to learn about the fundamental aspects of international strategy, including where, when, and how to expand internationally.”

Writing the case

They added: “The case documents all the international entries of Amazon as of 2020. It captures the geographic, cultural, political, and economic conditions across different countries that Amazon has entered, and highlights the opportunities and challenges for Amazon in these countries moving forward.

“Amazon is a global technology company, with expansive business lines and global footprints. The main challenge for us as case writers is to maintain a balance between offering a whole picture of Amazon’s globalisation efforts and providing some rich and interesting details.”

Amazon Air

Case writing advice

Jing and Yong explained: “We’d recommend focusing on historical facts and evidence but end the case with an ongoing challenge that impacts the future of the focal entity, and invites debate among academics, practitioners, and students.”

Teaching the case

Jing and Yong concluded: “The teaching experience has been fantastic. The case has been well received by both our MBA (including EMBA) students and undergraduate students, and there are so many interesting aspects to discuss and debate on.”

THE CASE 

Read the case

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CASE - Reference no. 9B20M169
TEACHING NOTE - Reference no. 8B20M169
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