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Chapter 73

Case studies are an important learning strategy in business classes as they provide an opportunity for you to critically analyze events that have taken place in real-life businesses.

This develops your critical thinking and research skills as you research the competition and industry in which your business resides with an end goal of formulating a recommendation for the challenges faced by the company.

Evaluate the case of your choice, and respond to each of the questions below using both theory and practical managerial thinking as well as supporting research.

Option 2: Amazon.com (pp. 522–523)

- With respect to the distribution, why has Amazon succeeded when so many other companies have failed?
- From a theoretical standpoint, what is Amazon’s pricing model? Why is this so effective? How does this compare to their competitors?
- Discuss how Amazon has used differentiation and positioning as two key components in maintaining a competitive advantage.
- Thinking about the changes in the macro and micro environment, what is next for Amazon? Where else can it grow?

In formatting your case analysis, do not use the question-and-answer format; instead, use an essay format with subheadings. Your APA-formatted case study should be a minimum of 500 words in length (not counting the title and reference pages).

You are required to use a minimum of three peer-reviewed, academic sources that are no more than 5 years old (one may be your textbook). All sources used, including the textbook, must be referenced; paraphrased material must have accompanying in-text citations.

Baswan, T., & Fatima, F. (2019). A Study on the Relationship Between Gender Preference and Brand Experience with Reference to Amazon Brand. *IUP Journal of Brand Management*, *16*(4), 64–77.

LIPSMAN, A. (2019). How Amazon Will Revolutionize the Future of Television Advertising. *Journal of Advertising Research*, *59*(3), 259–262. https://doi-org.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/10.2501/JAR-2019-032

Kotler, P., & Keller, K. L. (2016). *Marketing management* (15th ed.) [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781323591512

Marketing Excellence Amazon.com

Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1995, Amazon.com started as the “world’s largest bookstore” and, ironically, owned no books. Bezos promised to revolutionize retailing, however, and over the years he has blazed a trail of e-commerce innovations that many executives have studied and companies have followed.

Amazon initially set out to create personalized storefronts for each customer by providing more useful information and more choices than found in a neighborhood bookstore.

Readers could review books and evaluate them on a one- to five-star rating scale, while fellow browsers could rate the reviews for helpfulness. The company’s personal recommendation service aggregated buying-pattern data to infer who might like which book.

Amazon also introduced its revolutionary one-click shopping, which allowed buyers to make purchases effortlessly with a single click. Amazon started to diversify its product line in the late 1990s, first with DVDs and videos and then with consumer electronics, games, toys, software, video games, and gifts.

The company continued to expand its product offerings and in 2007 launched Amazon Video on Demand, allowing consumers to rent or purchase films and television shows to watch on their computers or televisions. Later that year, it introduced Amazon MP3, which competed directly with Apple’s iTunes and had participation from all the major music labels.

Amazon’s most successful product launch was the Kindle, its branded electronic book reader that delivered hundreds of thousands of books, magazines, blogs, and newspapers in a matter of seconds. As thin as a magazine and light as a paperback, the device has been the company’s best-selling product since 2009.

Today, you can find virtually anything you want on Amazon.com. The company has successfully established itself as the biggest online retailer in the world by enabling merchants of all kinds to sell items on the site.

In addition to its core business, Amazon also runs an “Associates” program that allows independent sellers and businesses to receive commissions for referring customers to the site in a variety of ways, including direct links and banner ads as well as Amazon Widgets, mini-applications that feature the company’s wide selection of products.

Associates can create an Amazon-operated online store easily, with low risk and no additional cost or programming knowledge. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) takes care of picking, packing, and shipping the merchant’s products to its customers.

One consistent key to Amazon’s success is its willingness to invest in the latest technology to make shopping online faster, easier, and more personally rewarding for its customers and third-party merchants.

During peak season in 2012, the company sold approximately 306 items per second, or 26 million items per day. Small wonder that it continually looks for ways to improve delivery. For a $99 annual fee, Amazon Prime provides unlimited free express shipping for millions of items.

While free shipping and price cuts are sometimes unpopular with investors, Bezos believes they build customer satisfaction, loyalty, and frequency of purchase orders. In 2013, Amazon.com announced a partnership with the U.S.

Postal Service to begin delivering orders on Sundays. Bezos also predicted on 60 Minutes that the company may use drones in the near future to make same-day delivery of lightweight products within short distances of distribution warehouses. (Critics find this unlikely for many reasons, though.) Amazon has also maintained competitive and low prices throughout its product expansion.

The company understands how important it is to keep its prices low in order to drive the volume it needs to remain a market leader and expand geographically. Amazon’s practice of selling books at heavily discounted prices, however, has upset some of its channel partners in publishing, as have its attempts to become a publisher in its own right.

From the beginning, Bezos has said that even though he started an online bookstore, he eventually wanted to sell everything to everyone through Amazon.com. The company continues to invest significantly in technology, is focused on the long term, and has successfully positioned itself as a technology company with its wide range of Amazon Web Services.

This growing collection of infrastructure applications meets the retailing needs of companies of virtually all sizes. Amazon has successfully reinvented itself time and again and created a critical channel for merchants around the world who are able to reach more than 244 million customers worldwide.

Choose any two classmates and review their main posts.

- Review the student post and evaluate their solutions for using the 68-95-99.7 (Empirical) Rule to determine the percentage of GRE scores between 350 and 650. Are the student’s calculations correct? If yes, note this and if not correct them with an example. Next, explain to the student why 50% of the scores are above 500 and why 50% are below (approximately).
- Review the student’s GRE score choice from number 4 above. Are the student calculations correct? Include the student’s calculations in your response and note any issues if discovered. Then, offer the student a second example using any other value between 300 and 500. Be sure to explain all the steps in your example to the student and to show all work.

Classmate 1 Sollars

- Across the USA, results for these exams are normally distributed. What does that mean and why is this the case?

First, it should be understood that there is a hard limit to high and low scores. No matter how smart a person is, there can’t be an extreme outlier that could get, say, 5000 on an SAT. Additionally, since a measure such as “competence” is a pretty even variable throughout a population, a normal distribution of scores should be expected if a test is properly written.

So, most people score around the middle of the chart, with a few people on either end getting high or low scores. Perfect scores should be as common as perfectly low scores.

- If you were to create a histogram of all GRE scores, what would you expect the histogram to look like? Would it be symmetrical? Would it be bell shaped? How many modes would it likely have? Would it be skewed?

I would expect a histogram of GRE scores to be a unimodal, bell-shaped curve. In all likelihood, it would be symmetric, with as many expected outliers on the high side as on the low side. The mean of the scores would likely occur at the peak of the shape, or very close to it.

- Suppose that the mean GRE score for the USA is 500 and the standard deviation is 75. Use the 68-95-99.7 (Empirical) Rule to determine the percentage of students likely to get a score between 350 and 650? What percentage of students will get a score above 500? What percentage of students will get a score below 275? Is a score below 275 significantly different from the mean? Why or why not?

I’ll use a visual aid for ease of reading:

If the mean GRE score was 500, the following would be true:

Scores between 350 and 650 would be those between -2 and +2 standard deviations from the mean, which would leave us with 95% of people scoring within that range.

Fully 50% of students would be expected to have scores above 500.

A score of 275 is 3 full deviations below the mean, which would give us .15% of students. This is significantly different than the mean, and anyone with that score would be considered an outlier because of how few would be expected to receive the same score or lower.

- Choose any GRE score between 200 and 800. Be sure that you do not choose a score that a fellow student has already selected. Using your chosen score, how many standard deviations from the mean is your score? (This value is called the z-value).

Using the table above (or the z table in Course Resources), what percentage of students will likely get a score below this value? What percentage of students is likely to get a score above this value?

I’ll chose a value of 590 for my score. This is 1.200 standard deviations higher than the mean. According to the z-table, 88.49% of students will score lower, which means 11.51% would be expected to score higher.

Classmate 2 (Cummin)

Across the USA, results for these exams are normally distributed. What does that mean and why is this the case?

normally distributed is relating to a bell shape curve. When the data is placed in a graph the information forms the shape of a bell, the mean will be in the middle of the bell and will be the highest amount of that particular variable.

If you were to create a histogram of all GRE scores, what would you expect the histogram to look like? Would it be symmetrical? Would it be bell shaped? How many modes would it likely have? Would it be skewed?

A histogram of all of the GRE scores would be a bell-shaped histogram, and it would be symmetrical. It would be unimodal, meaning that it only has one hump and it wouldn’t be skewed to one side or the other.

Suppose that the mean GRE score for the USA is 500 and the standard deviation is 75. Use the 68-95-99.7 (Empirical) Rule to determine the percentage of students likely to get a score between 350 and 650? What percentage of students will get a score above 500? What percentage of students will get a score below 275? Is a score below 275 significantly different from the mean? Why or why not?

The percentage of scores that would fall between 350-650 would be 95%.

The percentage of scores that would be above 500 would be 50%

The percentage of scores that would be below 275 would be .15%

A score that is below 275 would be severely significant from the mean because it is -3 standard deviations from the mean.

Choose any GRE score between 200 and 800. Be sure that you do not choose a score that a fellow student has already selected. Using your chosen score, how many standard deviations from the mean is your score? (This value is called the z-value).

Using the table above (or the z table in Course Resources), what percentage of students will likely get a score below this value? What percentage of students is likely to get a score above this value?

343-500/75 = -2.09.

Using the Standard Normal Distribution table (z table) I see the probability is

0.0188 = 1.88% of scores would be below the value of 343.

Above this value would be 98.12%

In this unit, you will investigate the normal probability curve (the bell curve). Many variables, such as height and weight are “normally distributed.” This means, for example, that if you were to collect 10,000 female adult human heights, the histogram of that data would be shaped like a “bell” (with “most” of the data near the center or mean).

Use the following z table portion to assist you with answering the Discussion topics. There is a full z table in Course Resources.

Different university departments use different tests to compare student performance and to determine graduate admission status. Three such tests are the GMAT, the LSAT, and the GRE.

- Across the USA, results for these exams are normally distributed. What does that mean and why is this the case?
- If you were to create a histogram of all GRE scores, what would you expect the histogram to look like? Would it be symmetrical? Would it be bell shaped? How many modes would it likely have? Would it be skewed?
- Suppose that the mean GRE score for the USA is 500 and the standard deviation is 75. Use the 68-95-99.7 (Empirical) Rule to determine the percentage of students likely to get a score between 350 and 650? What percentage of students will get a score above 500? What percentage of students will get a score below 275? Is a score below 275 significantly different from the mean? Why or why not?
- Choose any GRE score between 200 and 800. Be sure that you do not choose a score that a fellow student has already selected. Using your chosen score, how many standard deviations from the mean is your score? (This value is called the z-value). Using the table above (or the z table in Course Resources), what percentage of students will likely get a score below this value? What percentage of students is likely to get a score above this value?

Hints: The “standard score,” the “z score,” the “z value,” and the “number of standard deviations from the mean” are all saying the same thing. If you cannot find your exact score on the table, use the closest value or use the z table in Course Resources. There is a tutorial that can assist located in Course Resources.

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