It Doesn't Happen Often, But Jeff Bezos Is Getting One Important Thing Wrong

What are Jeff Bezos' biggest mistakes as CEO of Amazon? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Auren Hoffman, CEO of SafeGraph, on Quora:

One big mistake that Amazon is making right now is that they are not giving anyone access to their data, logins, customer relationships, etc.

Amazon is in a position to 10x their market cap by powering every e-commerce transaction in the world.

Amazon's strategy has been to own 100% of the transaction ... and that has worked out really well for them thus far. But they have an opportunity to power EVERY e-commerce transaction by providing access to easy login, payments, authentication, and data on every buyer. They could make everyone's e-commerce experience much, much better. Not only will that give Amazon more access to the pie, it will significantly grow the pie because it would provide a lubricant to make all e-commerce transactions (especially in mobile) better.

Amazon is now playing it safe.

When it comes to e-commerce, Amazon is playing it very, very safe. And who can blame them? They are a truly amazing company that provides a great product, makes transactions easy, and has wonderful customer service.

The thing that has helped them is that all the other large commerce players will not get together and form a co-op to compete with Amazon. Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, GroupOn, Zynga, etc. have not worked together in any way to share data, experiences, or login authentication. Amazon is betting that it will be too hard to coordinate the other commerce players, and it might be correct, but if there was a co-op of all the top retailers it could be unstoppable. So Amazon is taking a bet that the world does not change (which is likely a good bet).

There is no other company that has data as valuable as Amazon (except maybe Google).

Google (via Gmail) has access to what consumers are buying across e-commerce providers (from reading e-mail receipts). Of course, this is really valuable.

Besides Google, no other company in the U.S. has a sense of what people are buying more than Amazon. Even the average person is buying tons of items from Amazon. Their history is really rich (and for some, spans over 15 years!).

Amazon has done everything to hold the data for its own use only. It is super protective of the data. It is the only company I know of that masks and regularly changes its email receipts so companies like Google have a hard time reading them. This closed system has served them well thus far, but time will tell if they could be blind-sided by a more open data system.

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