pure brand

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Tue Apr 4 15:28:56 PDT 2000

[Speaking of Naomi Klein.... Gotta love the dateline on this piece.]

Financial Times - April 3, 2000

Amazon wants to focus on brand By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in Las Vegas, the leading online retailer, could spin off its fixed assets to focus purely on managing its brand, Jeff Bezos, chief executive, said on Monday.

Although he was cautious about pursuing such a strategy too soon, Mr Bezos said he was "very excited" about the idea of becoming "the Coca-Cola of the web" - leaving the management of physical assets such as its distribution centres to partner companies while Amazon concentrated on developing its brand. Such a model would mimic Coke's relationship with its bottlers.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs e-tailing conference in Las Vegas, Mr Bezos acknowledged that "there are often structural ways of releasing value for shareholders". He added: "Today, a huge competitive advantage for us is that we can do distribution centres purpose-built for e-commerce better than anybody else."

In the long-term, Amazon may wish to share that expertise with others, he said, but he warned: "If you do that too soon, you may give up your competitive advantage."

Without referring explicitly to recent market concerns about the ability of some internet retailers to survive without fresh cash injections, Mr Bezos said Amazon's online partners could not expect it to bail out associate companies should they get into financial difficulties.

Although he stressed that Amazon had every confidence in its partners' ability to survive, he said: "It's not our business to save companies." Amazon's partner retailers include,, and

Auditors for CDNow, and Peapod have expressed concern about the companies' survival in the past month.

Mr Bezos confirmed that Amazon will push further into international markets.

"Europe is a wonderful place to be doing e-commerce, because the retail infrastructure is under-served relative to the US," he said, citing early closing laws in some European countries and zoning restrictions on retailers in some parts of Asia.

He added that the "superior delivery" offered by European postal services was another advantage.

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