Alibaba and Amazon are both, inarguably, the greatest ecommerce giants we have seen. US-based Amazon is known for its revolutionary takeover of the e-Commerce world, and its superior business model. However, the Chinese Alibaba is not far behind –much younger than Amazon, Alibaba has caught up to the Seattle-based giant with such a fast pace that it has been a subject of much speculation amongst the business circles. What lessons can ecommerce entrepreneurs learn from Amazon’s Founder Jeff Bezos, or the Alibaba founder Jack Ma? Let’s see!
1. Always Put Customers First
Jeff Bezos is perhaps most famous for his “Customers First” slogan. This is a line that has been touted in many of his speeches, and Amazon claims to maintain a strict adherence to this rule. According to Jeff Bezos, the secret of their success is their laser sharp focus on putting customers first. Every single decision is made with the idea of facilitating customers, because according to Jeff Bezos, they are the driving force of your business. This is exactly why Amazon makes long-term decisions instead of focusing on short-term benefits. Perks like 25$ free shipping would not exist without the Customers First Approach.
In this is a great lesson for ecommerce success –if you truly sink deep into customer service and satisfaction, you are bound to gain an edge over your competitors.
2. The Customers Are Not Necessarily Your Consumers
Jack Ma, on the other hand, offers us an entirely different view on “Customers First”. While Alibaba also claims on putting customers on the top of its list, it means something very different by this term. For Jack Ma, the customers are the small business sellers – and they come first. Alibaba does not believe in satisfying the end-consumer or making decisions to facilitate them. Jack Ma’s philosophy is to empower the small business sellers –and let them do the job of carrying out consumer satisfaction. Because according to Jack Ma, he doesn’t know the consumers, but the sellers do! This is some great out-of-the-box thinking which can be truly beneficial for ecommerce businesses focusing on a different business model!
3. An Ecommerce Empire Benefits Through Control
Ecommerce businesses can exist in different ways – as Amazon has proven, the “Empire” system can be very successful. In the Empire system, the company exists as a monopolistic entity which buys and sells everything on its own. It maintains a hierarchy –and people can either choose to join it, or be systematically eliminated. This is rather fruitful in most cases, and this is the philosophy followed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
4. However An Ecommerce Ecosystem May Be Just As Beneficial
According to Jack Ma, however, the future of Ecommerce lies in the ecosystem model. He believes in the freedom that is afforded by the internet, and plans to use it to further his business. In the ecosystem model, the small businesses are empowered to do their own thing, and Alibaba just acts as a middle man platform, giving them a stage to sell their goods from. This model allows for linking, communication and co-existence. This is a great success lesson for ecommerce businesses- defining the needs of the future in this way can be very fruitful, and as shown by Alibaba’s results, this model truly works!
5. Meticulous Planning Helps In Ecommerce Entrepreneurship
Jeff Bezos is s meticulous planner- and this should come as no surprise because planning is always at the heart of success. Jeff Bezos started the company with $300, 000, and claims to obsess over long-term thinking. According to Bezos, every decision that he makes actually reaps rewards in 5-7 years, and every single move is planned with a strict customers first approach!
6. However, No Planning Can Also Mean You Are Not Afraid
However, Jack Ma is a living example of the fact that you can even let go of the reigns as long as you believe in what you’re doing. Jack Ma started the company with just $8150. As opposed to Jeff Bezos, he had no Ivy League training in technology and business –he was just an English teacher. And he certainly had no money under his belt. However, Jack Ma believes in a very different quality; the power of social change and social entrepreneurship.
According to Jack Ma, lack of finances or resources should never be a deterrent for you to reach your dreams. If you are unplanned enough and ignorant enough, you actually have more potential to take risks and think outside the box! This is exactly why Jack Ma got together with 17 other friends in a small apartment and started his Alibaba that is based on the model of social entrepreneurship.
7. Being A Technology Genius Helps
If you know how to code, and are aware of the nitty gritties of the tech world, it will be a huge plus point for your ecommerce business. The very fact that you are going to sell online means technology will be involved, and when you know technology, you are better able to creative innovative solutions inside it. This is one of the reasons for Jeff Bezos’s success. A graduate from an Ivy league college, Jeff Bezos is a tech genius with a strong foundation in CS. So ecommerce business owners should try to upgrade their knowledge of technology.
8. But It’s Okay Even If You Cannot Code
However, Jack Ma is again a living proof of the fact that no rule of success is written in stone, as long as you have the passion and drive to make things work. Jack Ma claims to have average knowledge of technology –the same as any layman, and cannot code even a single line! But the defining thing about Jack Ma is that he never planned to understand technology –he planned to tap into the social entrepreneurship and connect with the small business seller.
9. Intimidating Leadership Style Is The Norm To Succeed
Generally, CEOs should be intimidating –they need to be strong, serious, inspiring and at the top of their game. This is exactly the image portrayed by Jeff Bezos- who is a no-nonsense leader known for his confrontations, measured speeches and meticulous organization.
10. But You Can Be Honest And Simple And Still Lead!
However, Jack Ma proves you can be an out-spoken, honest and down-to-earth leader and still succeed. Ma’s leadership style is drastically different. He hosts talent shows for his employees and hands out silly strings to them. He is also known for his performance speeches, and he actually stepped down from being Alibaba’s CEO in 2013! –all of which proves that as long as you can connect to your team, you can be a whacky and still be a great leader!