The mighty Amazon runs into profit
The giant of Internet trading, Amazon, has announced its first ever full-year profit, as international growth propelled it past the US$1 billion sales mark for the first time.
Much of this growth was fuelled by the company's operations outside America.
Across its international sections - representing its UK, German, French and Japanese websites - Amazon saw sales leap by 74% to $804m in the fourth quarter of 2003, aided by the lower value of the dollar compared to the same period in 2002.
Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of the Seattle-based company, thanked lower prices and an increasing product range for the global increases in both sales and profits.
"Our commitment to year round free shipping and lower prices continues to be a win-win for our customers and Amazon," he said.
During the conference call, Bezos said Amazon will make a free shipping offer for all orders over $99 a permanent fixture on the site.
"This is a big deal and a significant investment for us," he added.
Bezos said the company's own research has long shown that many potential Amazon customers do not buy from the site because of shipping costs.
"We've found that free shipping was an objection to shopping with us maintained by many people," Bezos said.
"The thing that held us back from doing this in the past was economics. But our cost improvements over the last two years make this bet worth taking."
Sources: BBC Online, E-commerce News, The Register
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