第十二封信: 逆向工作


To our shareowners:


In this turbulent global economy, our fundamental approach remains the same. Stay heads down, focused on the long term and obsessed over customers. Long-term thinking levers our existing abilities and lets us do new things we couldn’t otherwise contemplate. It supports the failure and iteration required for invention, and it frees us to pioneer in unexplored spaces. Seek instant gratification – or the elusive promise of it – and chances are you’ll find a crowd there ahead of you. Long-term orientation interacts well with customer obsession. If we can identify a customer need and if we can further develop conviction that that need is meaningful and durable, our approach permits us to work patiently for multiple years to deliver a solution. “Working backwards” from customer needs can be contrasted with a “skills-forward” approach where existing skills and competencies are used to drive business opportunities. The skills-forward approach says, “We are really good at X. What else can we do with X?” That’s a useful and rewarding business approach. However, if used exclusively, the company employing it will never be driven to develop fresh skills. Eventually the existing skills will become outmoded. Working backwards from customer needs often demands that we acquire new competencies and exercise new muscles, never mind how uncomfortable and awkward-feeling those first steps might be.

在这个动荡的全球经济中,我们的基本保持不变。保持低调,专注于长期发展,拥抱我们的客户。长期主义,能够指导我们做那些原本没想到的事。长期主义,能够支持创新过程中的失败,让我们在未开发空间中开拓先锋。在创新的路上,你可能会找到一群志同道合的人,在过程中找到成就感。长期主义,能提升我们对客户的关注。如果我们能够识别客户的需求,并且确认这样的需求是有意义且持久的,长期主义会驱使我们耐着性子工作多年,提供客户长久的解决方案。逆向工作(Working Backwards)指的是从客户的需求出发,倒推现在应该做什么;技能驱动(Skills-Forward)则是从已知的能力出发,试图驱动商业机会。技能驱动说的是「我们真的很擅长A,那么A还能拿来做什么?」的确,这是很有效的工作方式,但这样的公司永远不会发展新技能。最终,已知的技能会越来越过时。从客户需求出发的逆向工作则不然,它往往会要求我们锻炼新技能,即使我们踏出第一步时总感到困难重重。

Kindle is a good example of our fundamental approach. More than four years ago, we began with a long-term vision: every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds. The customer experience we envisioned didn’t allow for any hard lines of demarcation between Kindle the device and Kindle the service – the two had to blend together seamlessly. Amazon had never designed or built a hardware device, but rather than change the vision to accommodate our then-existing skills, we hired a number of talented (and missionary!) hardware engineers and got started learning a new institutional skill, one that we needed to better serve readers in the future.


We’re grateful and excited that Kindle sales have exceeded our most optimistic expectations. On February 23, we began shipping Kindle 2. If you haven’t seen it, Kindle 2 is everything customers loved about the original Kindle, only thinner, faster, with a crisper display, and longer battery life, and capable of holding 1,500 books. You can choose from more than 250,000 of the most popular books, magazines, and newspapers. Wireless delivery is free, and you’ll have your book in less than 60 seconds. We’ve received thousands of feedback emails from customers about Kindle, and – remarkably – 26% of them contain the word “love.”


Customer Experience Pillars


In our retail business, we have strong conviction that customers value low prices, vast selection, and fast, convenient delivery and that these needs will remain stable over time. It is difficult for us to imagine that ten years from now, customers will want higher prices, less selection, or slower delivery. Our belief in the durability of these pillars is what gives us the confidence required to invest in strengthening them. We know that the energy we put in now will continue to pay dividends well into the future.


Our pricing objective is to earn customer trust, not to optimize short-term profit dollars. We take it as an article of faith that pricing in this manner is the best way to grow our aggregate profit dollars over the long term. We may make less per item, but by consistently earning trust we will sell many more items. Therefore, we offer low prices across our entire product range. For the same reason, we continue to invest in our free shipping programs, including Amazon Prime. Customers are well-informed and smart, and they evaluate the total cost, including delivery charges, when making their purchasing decisions. In the last 12 months, customers worldwide have saved more than $800 million by taking advantage of our free shipping offers.

关于订价,我们的目标是赢得客户信任,而不是优化短期内的利润。我们认为这样的订价策略,长期来看可以提升我们的利润。也许每件商品赚得比较少,但赢得客户信任的我们,在长期来看可以卖更多件商品。因此,我们在全品项都提供低价商品。出于相同原因,我们持续投资于免费运送计划,包括Amazon Prime服务。客户是聪明人,他们衡量花费时,也会把运费考虑进去。过去12个月里,Amazon的客户透过免费运送计划节省了超过8亿美元。

We’re relentlessly focused on adding selection, both by increasing selection inside existing categories and by adding new categories. We’ve added 28 new categories since 2007. One business that is rapidly growing and continues to surprise me is our shoe store, Endless.com, which we launched in 2007. Fast, reliable delivery is important to customers. In 2005, we launched Amazon Prime. For $79 per year, Prime members get unlimited express two-day shipping for free and upgrades to one-day delivery for just $3.99. In 2007, we launched Fulfillment by Amazon, a new service for third-party sellers. With FBA, sellers warehouse their inventory in our global fulfillment network, and we pick, pack, and ship to the end customer on the sellers’ behalf. FBA items are eligible for Amazon Prime and Super Saver Shipping – just as if the items were Amazonowned inventory. As a result, FBA both improves the customer experience and drives seller sales. In the fourth quarter of 2008, we shipped more than 3 million units on behalf of sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon, a win-win for customers and sellers.

我们致力于增加品项,既包括扩增现有品项,也包括增加新品项。自2007年,我们增加了28个新品项。其中,2007年成立的鞋类商店http://Endless.com,增长速度极快,让我最为印象深刻。我们知道,消费者会在意运送服务是否快速、稳定。2005年,我们推出了Amazon Prime。一年79美元,Prime会员可限次数使用2天内送达的运送服务。若要缩短为1天内送达,则只要再多付3.99美元。2007年,我们推出了Amazon FBA(Fulfillment by Amazon)为第三方卖家处理配送问题。有了FBA服务,第三方卖家可将库存放在我们的仓库,由我们代表卖家进行负责拣货、包装,最终运送至消费者手中。第三方卖家使用FBA服务贩卖的商品,如同我们自家的商品一样,也适用于Amazon Prime和Super Saver Shipping服务。FBA不只是改进了客户体验,也提高卖家的销售额。2008年第四季度,我们代表卖家运送了超过三百万件商品,这对消费者和卖家都是双赢的结果。

Prudent Spending


The customer-experience path we’ve chosen requires us to have an efficient cost structure. The good news for shareowners is that we see much opportunity for improvement in that regard. Everywhere we look (and we all look), we find what experienced Japanese manufacturers would call “muda” or waste. I find this incredibly energizing. I see it as potential – years and years of variable and fixed productivity gains and more efficient, higher velocity, more flexible capital expenditures.


Our primary financial goal remains maximizing long-term free cash flow and doing so with high rates of return on invested capital. We are investing heartily in Amazon Web Services, in tools for third-party sellers, in digital media, in China, and in new product categories. And we make these investments with the belief that they can be of meaningful scale and can clear our high bar for returns.


Around the world, amazing, inventive, and hard-working Amazonians are putting customers first. I take great pride in being part of this team. We thank you, our owners, for your support, for your encouragement, and for joining us on our continuing adventure.


As always, I attach our 1997 letter to shareowners. Even as the rate of change accelerates, we hope and believe our focus on what stays the same should serve us well.


Jeffrey P. Bezos

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Amazon.com, Inc.

April 2009







长期主义,这是贝索斯1997年就开始提的东西。 他认为长期主义有很多好好处。

  • 长期主义,能够指导我们做那些原本没想到的事。
  • 长期主义,能够支持创新过程中的失败,让我们在未开发空间中开拓先锋。在创新的路上,你可能会找到一群志同道合的人,在过程中找到成就感。
  • 长期主义,能提升我们对客户的关注。如果我们能够识别客户的需求,并且确认这样的需求是有意义且持久的,长期主义会驱使我们耐着性子工作多年,提供客户长久的解决方案


逆向工作是指从客户的需求出发,倒推现在应该干什么。 这个意思其实就从满足需求开始,然后找可以满足需求的事情来干。



贝索斯宣传,kindle的话其实是很有意思的。kindle 是 能让你60秒内可以拥有任何书,他没说配置,没说各种选择,这也和苹果的宣传语很类似。


第十二封信: 逆向工作”的一个响应


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