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Amazon for the Long Haul

NMC/Radio and Records eChart main column as published in the 2/1/02 issue of R&R Amazon.com did something fairly amazing this past week - it posted a profit for the very first time in its 7 year existence. Sure, it was only 5 million dollars, but remember when Yahoo was excited about $11,000 profit?

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Certainly, given the amount of money they've spent at Amazon to get here, they are way in the hole. But it is, I think, a significant milestone in the short initial history of the commercialized Net.

One thing this profit signals is that Jeff Bezos and his team gets it. They listen. And they see the carnage around them and they are doing everything they can to avoid becoming another dot com death. You won't find lavish launch parties at Amazon, you won't find first class plane stubs, and you won't find a single drop of wasted bandwidth: yours or theirs.

There are a couple of things that you can use for your station that Amazon has. First, examine how huge their information to page load ratio is. There's a ton of stuff on every page, and even with a dial up connection, the pages fairly pop into place. I have seen radio stations web sites continue to get denser and denser, with huge, poorly designed graphics, unnecessary Flash intros and more often than not, egotistical, self aggrandizing sizing of graphics. Pop ups, pop unders, background graphics and the like are aggravating to both listeners and you - so why do it? Put your web page on a design diet. Then put it on again. Yank out every unnecessary piece of first generation Web design trash that weaseled its way out of your Webmaster's keyboard and onto your pages.

Your listeners will thank you. They will actually look forward to going to your site. And they'll stay there longer.

The second thing you can learn from Amazon is how easy e-commerce can be. With the Net Music Countdown, our web content package can be customized for any e-commerce fulfillment system, but our default is Amazon's Associate program. Why? It's been in place for years, it's well developed, they care about you if you're an affiliate, and they give you every tool in the known universe to make it easy for your listeners to buy from you/them: graphics, text links, search boxes, updated banners, timely specials around holidays and special events, all easily integrated into your station's web site.

If you've got a moment (and a moment is all you'll need) revisit Amazon and look at how they've grown simply by sticking to their knitting. I bet you'll get 10 more ideas just from loping around their site that you can put to use on your site right away.

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