第二封信: 客户至上

在第一封信中,贝索斯提到了要痴迷于用户,要增长就要打造口碑,因为口碑和复购让亚马逊的图书业务上成为领导者。在第二封信 ,他继续强调客户至上。


To our shareholders, customers, and employees:

The last 3½ years have been exciting. We’ve served a cumulative 6.2 million customers, exited 1998 with a $1 billion revenue run rate, launched music, video, and gift stores in the U.S., opened shop in the U.K. and Germany, and, just recently, launched http://Amazon.com Auctions.

We predict the next 3½ years will be even more exciting. We are working to build a place where tens of millions of customers can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. It is truly Day 1 for the Internet and, if we execute our business plan well, it remains Day 1 for Amazon.com. Given what’s happened, it may be difficult to conceive, but we think the opportunities and risks ahead of us are even greater than those behind us. We will have to make many conscious and deliberate choices, some of which will be bold and unconventional. Hopefully, some will turn out to be winners. Certainly, some will turn out to be mistakes.

A Recap of 1998

Heads-down focus on customers helped us make substantial progress in 1998:

• Sales grew from $148 million in 1997 to $610 million – a 313% increase.
• 销售额增长313%,从1997年的1亿4800万提升至6.1亿。

• Cumulative customer accounts grew from 1.5 million at the end of 1997 to 6.2 million at the end of 1998 – an increase of over 300%.
• 消费者账户数增长超过300%,从1997年年底的150万,提升至1998年年底的620万。

• Despite this strong new customer growth, the percentage of orders placed on the http://Amazon.com Web site by repeat customers grew from over 58% in the fourth quarter of 1997 to over 64% in the same period in 1998
• 新用户增长迅猛,而旧用户的再消费订单也有所提升。1997年年底,由旧用户重复购买产生的订单比例为58%,1998年同一时间,此比例提升至超过64%。

• Our first major product expansion, the http://Amazon.com music store, became the leading online music retailer in its first full quarter.
• 我们的主力产品,Amazon音乐商店,完整上线一季后在音乐零售市场取得领先

• Following their October launch under the Amazon brand and with http://Amazon.com technology, the combined fourth-quarter sales in the U.K. and German stores nearly quadrupled over the third quarter, establishing http://Amazon.co.uk and http://Amazon.de as the leading online booksellers in their markets.
• 自十月启动后,Amazon在英国和德国的第四季度销售额,相较于第三季度增长4倍。在英国和德国市场,Amazon成为在线书店的市场领先者。

• The addition of music was followed by the addition of video and gifts in November, and we became the leading online video retailer in only 6 weeks.
• 在音乐加入服务之后,录像带和礼物也在11月加入。随之而来的结果是,我们在6周之后成为在线录像带零售的市场领先者。

• 25% of our fourth-quarter 1998 sales was derived from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, and music, video, and gift sales on Amazon.com, all very new businesses.
• 第四季度的销售额中,有25%是来自全新业务,分别是新开的英国站、德国站带来的销售额,以及新的Amazon服务,音乐、录像带和礼物销售。

• We significantly improved the customer experience, with innovations like 1- ClickSM shopping, Gift Click, store-wide sales rank, and instant recommendations.
• 我们大幅改进消费体验,提供一键购物、礼物卡和全站销售排行和推荐功能。

1998’s revenue and customer growth and achievement of continued growth in 1999 were and are dependent on expansion of our infrastructure. Some highlights:

• In 1998 our employee base grew from approximately 600 to over 2,100, and we significantly strengthened our management team.
• 1998年,我们的员工人数从600人提升到2100人,显著的强化我们的管理团队。

• We opened distribution and customer service centers in the U.K. and Germany, and in early 1999, announced the lease of a highly-mechanized distribution center of approximately 323,000 square feet in Fernley, Nevada. This latest addition will more than double our total distribution capacity and allows us to even further improve time-to-mailbox for customers.
• 我们设立了英国和德国的配送与客服中心。明年初,将在内华达州弗恩利(Fernley)租用一间高度机械化的配送中心,占地32.3万平方英尺。这将使我们的配送能力提升两倍以上,进一步缩短货物寄送时间。

• Inventories rose from $9 million at the beginning of the year to $30 million by year end, enabling us to improve product availability for our customers and improve product costs through direct purchasing from manufacturers.
• 库存数量从年初的900万,将于年底进一步提升到3000万。这将使消费者更容易买到他们要的东西,同时由于直接向制造商购买,能进一步压低价钱。

• Our cash and investment balances, following our May 1998 high yield debt offering and early 1999 convertible debt offering, now stand at well over $1.5 billion (on a pro forma basis), affording us substantial financial strength and strategic flexibility.
• 1998年5月,我们发行了高收益债券。1999年初,我们发行可转换债券。因此,我们的现金和投资余额现已超过15亿美元,为我们提供了充裕的财务实力和战略灵活性。

We’re fortunate to benefit from a business model that is cash-favored and capital efficient. As we do not need to build physical stores or stock those stores with inventory, our centralized distribution model has allowed us to build our business to a billion-dollar sales rate with just $30 million in inventory and $30 million in net plant and equipment. In 1998, we generated $31 million in operating cash flow which more than offset net fixed asset additions of $28 million.
我们很幸运地受益于一个以现金流和资本效率为导向的商业模式。由于我们没有建立实体商店,因此不用受制于商店里的存货。集中化分销模式使我们能够以3000万元的存货、3000万元的厂房和设备,建立一个10亿元的业务。 1998年,我们的经营活动一共产生了3100万元的现金流,足以抵销固定资产增加额2800万。

Our Customers

We intend to build the world’s most customer-centric company. We hold as axiomatic that customers are perceptive and smart, and that brand image follows reality and not the other way around. Our customers tell us that they choose http://Amazon.com and tell their friends about us because of the selection, ease-of-use, low prices, and service that we deliver.

But there is no rest for the weary. I constantly remind our employees to be afraid, to wake up every morning terrified. Not of our competition, but of our customers. Our customers have made our business what it is, they are the ones with whom we have a relationship, and they are the ones to whom we owe a great obligation. And we consider them to be loyal to us – right up until the second that someone else offers them a better service.

We must be committed to constant improvement, experimentation, and innovation in every initiative. We love to be pioneers, it’s in the DNA of the company, and it’s a good thing, too, because we’ll need that pioneering spirit to succeed. We’re proud of the differentiation we’ve built through constant innovation and relentless focus on customer experience, and we believe our initiatives in 1998 reflect it: our music, video, U.K. and German stores, like our U.S. bookstore, are best of breed.

Work Hard, Have Fun, Make History

It would be impossible to produce results in an environment as dynamic as the Internet without extraordinary people. Working to create a little bit of history isn’t supposed to be easy, and, well, we’re finding that things are as they’re supposed to be! We now have a team of 2,100 smart, hard-working, passionate folks who put customers first. Setting the bar high in our approach to hiring has been, and will continue to be, the single most important element of Amazon.com’s success.

During our hiring meetings, we ask people to consider three questions before making a decision:

• Will you admire this person? If you think about the people you’ve admired in your life, they are probably people you’ve been able to learn from or take an example from. For myself, I’ve always tried hard to work only with people I admire, and I encourage folks here to be just as demanding. Life is definitely too short to do otherwise.
• 你会敬佩这个人吗?如果你回想自己生活敬佩的人,他们往往是那些你可以学习或借鉴的人。就我自己而言,我总是争取只和我敬佩的人共事,我鼓励员工和我一样高标准。

• Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering? We want to fight entropy. The bar has to continuously go up. I ask people to visualize the company 5 years from now. At that point, each of us should look around and say, “The standards are so high now — boy, I’m glad I got in when I did!”
• 这个人会提升整个团队的效率吗?熵(Entropy)总是倾向增加,而我们想要与之对抗。为了达到这个标准,我们的门坎会持续提高。我会请公司成员想象五年之后的入职门坎,我希望我们所有人在五年后都会说:「门坎现在也太高了吧!兄弟,好险我五年就进入Amazon!」

• Along what dimension might this person be a superstar? Many people have unique skills, interests, and perspectives that enrich the work environment for all of us. It’s often something that’s not even related to their jobs. One person here is a National Spelling Bee champion (1978, I believe). I suspect it doesn’t help her in her everyday work, but it does make working here more fun if you can occasionally snag her in the hall with a quick challenge: “onomatopoeia!”
• 这个人可能会在多大程度上成为明星员工?许多人有独一无二的技能、兴趣和观点,这让我们的工作环境更加丰富。有时候,这跟他们的工作无关。我还记得1978年我曾和一名全国拼字比赛冠军共事,我想这对她的日常工作没有直接帮助,但却让我们工作环境更有趣了!尤其是当我们在大厅遇到她,突然给她一个拼音挑战:「状声词(onomatopoeia)怎么拚?」

Goals for 1999

As we look forward, we believe that the overall e-commerce opportunity is enormous, and 1999 will be an important year. Although http://Amazon.com has established a strong leadership position, it is certain that competition will even further accelerate. We plan to invest aggressively to build the foundation for a multi-billion-dollar revenue company serving tens of millions of customers with operational excellence and high efficiency. Although this level of forward investment is costly and carries many inherent risks, we believe it will provide the best end-to-end experience for customers, and actually offer the least risky long-term value creation approach for investors.

The elements of our 1999 plan may not surprise you:

Distribution capacity − We intend to build out a significant distribution infrastructure to ensure that we can support all the sales our customers demand, with speedy access to a deep product inventory.

Systems capacity − We’ll be expanding our systems capacity to support similar growth levels. The systems group has a significant task: expand to meet near term growth, restructure systems for multi-billion dollar scale and tens of millions of customers, build out features and systems for new initiatives and new innovations, and increase operational excellence and efficiency. All while keeping a billion dollar, 8 million customer store up and available on a 24×7 basis.

Brand promise − http://Amazon.com is still a small and young company relative to the major offline retailers, and we must ensure that we build wide, strong customer relationships during this critical period.

Expanded product and service offerings − In 1999, we will continue to enhance the scope of our current product and service offerings, as well as add new initiatives. http://Amazon.com Auctions is our most recent addition. If any of you have not tried this new service, I encourage you to run – not walk – to http://www.amazon.com and click on the Auctions tab. As an http://Amazon.com customer, you are pre-registered to both bid and sell. As a seller, you have access to Amazon.com’s 8 million experienced online shoppers.

Bench strength and processes − We’ve complicated our business dramatically with new products, services, geographies, acquisitions and additions to our business model. We intend to invest in teams, processes, communication and people development practices. Scaling in this way is among the most challenging and difficult elements of our plan.

http://Amazon.com has made a number of strides forward in the past year, but there is still an enormous amount to learn and to do. We remain optimistic, but we also know we must remain vigilant and maintain a sense of urgency. We face many challenges and hurdles. Among them, aggressive, capable and well-funded competition; the growth challenges and execution risk associated with our own expansion; and the need for large continuing investments to meet an expanding market opportunity.

The most important thing I could say in this letter was said in last years’ letter, which detailed our long-term investment approach. Because we have so many new shareholders (this year we’re printing more than 200,000 of these letters – last year we printed about 13,000), we’ve appended last year’s letter immediately after this year’s. I invite you to please read the section entitled It’s All About the Long Term. You might want to read it twice to make sure we’re the kind of company you want to be invested in. As it says there, we don’t claim it’s the right philosophy, we just claim it’s ours!

All the best and sincere thanks once again to our customers and shareholders and all the folks here who are working passionately every day to build an important and lasting company.

Jeffrey P. Bezos
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Amazon.com, Inc.



他信的重点其实还是关于顾客那一段。贝索斯说亚马逊 打造世界最以客户为中心的公司,他认为客户是聪明的,选择亚马逊是因为亚马逊提供了高价值的服务,希望依靠口碑来扩展。亚马逊想创造历史,就需要以顾客为中心,持续保持高标准。


  1. 你会敬佩这个人吗?



对用户来说,产品的参数、指标、性能,这些信息,都不够直观,他们更想明确地知道,这些东西,到底能解决什么样的问题,给自己带来什么样的作用和价值——也就是“顾客效益”(customer benefits)。


第二封信: 客户至上”的一个响应


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