Amazon’s Financial Indicators… “Falling With Style”?

Recently, an article came out questioning if Amazon is “a giant ponzi scheme dressed in drag,” and it reminded us of a blog post we wrote in January, “What E-commerce Pricing Strategists Can Learn from Aircraft Piloting.” In our post, we discussed Amazon’s current precarious strategy of flying fast and low on increasing revenue and decreasing margins; this “ponzi scheme” article digs deeper into Amazon’s finances to reach a very similar conclusion to ours: “If AMZN’s revenues slow down or its expenses unexpectedly increase, for whatever reason, AMZN could face liquidity problems.”

With Amazon’s “airspeed” (revenue) increasing and “altitude” (operating margin) decreasing, those stakeholders with “brains” may want to know where the parachutes are “stored.”

Picture1(Original chart by Dave Kranzler; Edits by DSS)

Perhaps Amazon’s current position is comparable to how Buzz Lightyear describes his ability to “fly”:

“This isn’t flying, this is falling… with style.”

Omni-Channel Analytics & the Cost-Service Conundrum

When it comes to Omni-channel, advanced analytics can drive many opportunities and benefits, but not without some common roadblocks. A recent RetailWire m*paper outlines a few opportunities worth diving into, but there are two in particular I’d like to expand on: assessing cost of sale and tracking order status across channels. Both are critical to long-term viability and success, but few companies have sufficient performance visibility to either one.

Three roadblocks to these opportunities are listed in the article: 1. disparate systems, 2. lack of resources and 3. cultural barriers. These obstacles certainly contribute to the challenge of elemental cost and service, but each is perhaps only the tip of its own iceberg.

1. The challenge of disparate internal systems is compounded by external data sources (vendors, carriers, providers). Missing or inaccurate data erodes confidence, and any attempt to assemble end-to-end cost or service seems to become impossible or worthless.

2. Lack of IT or business resources is secondary to having the RIGHT resources. Knowing HOW to assemble and allocate cost and time across items and orders requires understanding of both the business drivers and the data and tools by which to illuminate them.

3. Organizational silos can make cross-functional initiatives difficult, but ‘survival instincts’ in today’s highly-competitive retail landscape are fostering improved collaboration. The bigger issues are:

  • Accountability – Who “owns” end-to-end profitability or customer service performance?
  • Sustainability – How do we ensure consistent effort to achieve profitable sales growth and customer service expectations?

While there are some great BI and analytical tools out there, none of them can address the challenges listed above; they are a function of people and knowledge, not interactive dashboards and wizards. That is why many BI investments fail to deliver on their value proposition.

So in the end, can total order cost and service performance visibility be achieved and made actionable? Absolutely! Just ask DSS’s clients. It’s our passion…it’s what we do!