Almost Heroes of Commerce


Jeff Bezos

Founder and CEO of Bezos is already on the Heroes of Commerce list for creating the first effective internet retail website. He could be on the list again if he turns into the world's first service monopoly.  A company becomes a service monopoly when the quality of its service is so exceptional that it fulfills all the relevant needs of its customers and they have no need to find a competitor.

Bezos' business is most effective in selling items that have 100% quality standards and low shipping costs.  That includes books and CD's, which create little or no return problems because online buyers get what they want, which is untrue for clothing and other retail items that require touch, feel and have high return rates.  

Bezos has added many features to his marketing that satisfy his customers and could lead to a service monopoly.  In books, the subject I know, he offers several ingenious elements. offers used books along with the new book; that is rare in retail book selling, and in the few cases where it exists, it is limited and recent. offers a discount, off retail price, on nearly all books sold and a discount on shipping at increased dollar volume of sales. offers large and frequent buyers further discounts and sends them gifts. The availability and estimated shipping time are available for all books sold, as well as tracking information on the shipment., by keeping a nearly complete list of all English books in print on its catalog, provides a service formerly only available in libraries. Book reviews and evaluations are available on the site of the book, along with sample material from the book.

The same high quality of service is offered to book suppliers. maintains an inventory on all books that have regular sales and keeps the inventory proportional to the sales volume so that when customers order a standard book, it is shipped immediately. Booksellers don't face emergency orders.

Booksellers are offered reliable accounting information online, records of book deliveries and payment is regular and prompt .... a rarity inthe industry. keeps the used book business separate from its own main business and only takes a commission for forwarding the orders to used book suppliers. Ggood management decision.

From the evidence I see in Japan, provides a similar excellent service overseas. could become the first service monopoly in business history.  The could is modified by several elements. First, Bezos must find the limit of his business (books, CD's, prescriptions ... what else?) and stop there. The same is true for the international market.  Second, he must continue to innovate as his customers needs change.  Third, he must effectively pass on his understanding of his business to his successors and build that understanding deeply into the business.


Pierre Omidyar - Meg Whitman et al

Ebay is among first new and innovative business forms in recent years.  It is not directly the result of technological developments.  It is an indirect by-product of the internet.  Ebay is a garage sale that occurs 24 hours a day and covers a national geography.  It has been designed so well and satisfies customers needs so well that it dominates its market.

The corporate structure of Ebay should be different from non-internet companies, but it isn't. An original internet company should be structured to respond directly to its homepage. The homepage is the product the company is offering. Management should be focused on the existing homepage and future homepages. Quality Control, final stage decision making and database interaction are so vital, they should be visible in the management structure. They aren't at Ebay.

Current mythology makes Pierre Omidyar the inventor of Ebay and Meg Whitman the person who built the management of the company. I don't know the history, so they are both almost heroes of commerce.