It’s very easy to assume that Amazon has always been big. After all, it’s the 800-pound gorilla of online commerce. Next to Alibaba and AliExpress and that network, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer.
It’s easy to think that it has always been this dominant.
Well, actually, it didn’t start out this way. In fact, when it started out, there were many other competitors in the e-commerce space.
But it was a very fragmented market, and that’s basically what helped get Amazon a leg up on the competition.
You have to understand that in the early days of commercial internet, there were many serious problems that had to be resolved. Chief among this was getting the word out about your business.
In hindsight, many of these problems were actually pretty straightforward and easy to resolve.
For example, if you just started a website, it’s fairly cheap and effective to run a Facebook marketing campaign if you know what you’re doing.
If you know how to reverse engineer your competitors who are already on Facebook, you can figure out their custom audiences and make educated guesses as to the right kind of audience profile.
Using this information, you can plug this into Facebook and run ad experiments until you get an ad that meets your performance criteria and success metrics.
In other words, it’s so much easier and cheaper to market now than it was back when Amazon started.
Amazon initially started with books. That’s pretty much the long and short of their business. But what really made Amazon was its affiliate program.
Of course, this program has evolved throughout the years. In fact, the range of products that you can promote as an associate of the Amazon Affiliates System is pretty much unlimited. No joke. Real story.
Whether you are looking to promote wood chippers, or if you are very big into certain types of apparel, there’s a huge range of products on Amazon for you to promote.
Of course, the main reason why this is the case is because Amazon is not exactly the one storing, warehousing, and ultimately, selling these products.
A few years back, Amazon opened up its marketplace to third party sellers. This is what blew up Amazon.
When paired with their significant and powerful affiliate marketing network, it’s easy to see how a lot of affiliates can’t help but promote Amazon.
Sure, the affiliate commissions that you get from Amazon tend to be on the low side compared to other affiliate programs. However, given the wide range of products you can sell on an affiliate basis, it is no wonder why a lot of people stick with Amazon.
Amazon gives you a tremendous amount of flexibility. You also have branding cachet when it comes time for the customer to buy the product that you are recommending.
Never Underestimate the Power of Amazon’s Brand
Let’s put it this way, if you saw a review of a product that you are interested in and you click on the “Buy Now” link, how would you respond if you end up on a website you haven’t heard of before?
You probably would think twice. You might even get cold feet. After all, you don’t know anything about this website. Who knows if this website’s going to be around?
You’re wondering how they treat their customers. You obviously worked hard for your money, and you don’t want to be separated from your money that easy, so you’re kind of thinking twice.
In many cases, you’re probably on the fence, and you never go on to buy anything because this website, although it may look like a well-put together online store, is really unknown to you. It doesn’t have brand appeal.
Now, compare that situation with you clicking on an Amazon affiliate link, and then ending up on Amazon. It’s a completely different ballgame.
Everybody knows about Amazon. You are in a familiar territory.
Maybe you have been to Amazon several times before. At the very least, you have heard of the Amazon brand. You’re not taking shots in the dark with a company that you haven’t heard of before.
This is so different from the previous scenario that I’ve just described.
Given Amazon’s immense branding power, it is no surprise that their affiliates make quite a bit of money. In fact, Amazon pays out hundreds of millions of dollars, year after year, in affiliate commissions.
That’s pretty much the long and short of how Amazon got started and got so big. It really all boils down to two things. First, it developed a loyal affiliate base.
As I have mentioned earlier, the reason why people love promoting Amazon is because they get a tremendous amount of flexibility as far as products are concerned.
You can create all sorts of websites that talk about all sorts of solutions which all lead to different products that you know Amazon will carry.
The same cannot be said of the typical affiliate program. The affiliate programs, really are at the mercy of the brands that use them.
So, if you go to a typical competing affiliate program network that may pay a much higher commission, you’re basically stuck with a narrow range of products.
In many cases, you don’t get access to products to promote at all because they simply don’t have the right deals to promote such products. This is a crucial drawback to Amazon alternatives.
The other reason why Amazon got so big is because they opened up their network to third-party sellers. This enabled them to explode their product offerings, which in turn empowered their affiliate network base.
So, it’s kind of a two-way, self-reinforcing mechanism that made Amazon so powerful.
Of course, it goes without saying that when you go to Amazon as a buyer, you plug into a highly calibrated and finely-tuned selling machine.
I don’t say that as a hype. I’m not just spitting out Amazon’s reputation. I’m describing the truth.
If you don’t believe me, get on Amazon, check out product categories, and click through the different products that you’re interested in.
What do you think will happen at the bottom? That’s right, Amazon is actually paying attention to what you’re clicking on and suggesting different products that you might actually want to buy.
It is no surprise that when people go to Amazon from an affiliate link looking to buy just one item, they end up walking away with several items. That’s how effective Amazon’s product suggestion engine is.
So, if you’re wondering about the brief history of how Amazon got started and got so big, well, look at it as a happy marriage of effective affiliate marketing technology, a powerful product suggestion engine, and an open market.