In 1986, a Princeton computer science graduate started work at a Wall Street broker, modelling stock market trends.
By 1994, after he’d risen through the ranks to become Senior Vice President at a hedge fund, he happened to read a report about the extraordinary growth of the internet. It said that usage was increasing by over 2,300% per year.
Within a few months, he’d left his job and driven across the country to Seattle, to set up “Earth’s largest bookstore”... in his garage.
Fast forward twenty years and amazon.com, having pioneered e-commerce and disrupted retail markets around the world, now turns over almost $2bn a week, owns 40% of all global book sales, and has made Jeff Bezos the 15th richest person on the planet.
The interesting thing about Amazon is that there’s nothing distinctive about what they sell, nor was Bezos even the first to sell goods over the internet (Compuserve had set up The Electronic Mall a decade earlier) but the effortless experience Amazon gave the buyer was revolutionary.
Likewise the iPod was by no means the first MP3 player; it was just one of many at the time. It was with the launch of iTunes that the experience of buying and listening to music was transformed.
The effortless experience is why tablet sales will overtake PC sales for the first time this year. It’s why video streaming has killed video rental, why Über has created such a storm, why Spotify could yet take out iTunes, and why Argos’s new strategy (online integration, iPads in-store, partnerships with e-bay etc.) will transform its future growth.
It’s also why some fantastic innovations, like 3D printing and bitcoin, have yet to go mainstream. They’re just too darned complicated.
So here’s the question. Have you ever really looked at what your customers have to do, to buy and use the things you sell?
How can you make their lives, and their interactions with you, effortlessly simple?
Bottom Line: Simplicity is the new black. Make your customer’s life effortlessly simple, and she’ll stick with you for life.