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\"RobinThe fact that we’re living in arguably the most disruptive, game-changing period in the history of retailing should be quite obvious to all by now. Just as technology (including the Internet), globalization and unfettered competition have provided consumers with total power over all consumer-facing industries, those very same tools and dynamics must now be used by those industries (including retailers), to fundamentally transform their business models, or those businesses will simply disappear.

Jeffrey Bezos, founder and visionary leader of Amazon.com, the subject of this issue’s feature story, understood these global, game-changing dynamics earlier and better than anyone else, as evidenced by Amazon’s continuing warp-speed growth. The Internet is, indeed, nothing more than a “tool.” So, when I hear people say the Internet is changing the face of retailing, I disagree. Jeffrey Bezos has single-handedly changed and continues to change the face of retailing through his profoundly visionary use of the Internet as a tool. Furthermore, to define Amazon as a retailer is a misnomer. It is a vast, limitless marketplace within which any product or service under the sun can be bought, sold, auctioned off or traded. Its only limit is the limit of Bezos’s imagination, which in 18 short years has achieved Amazon.com’s $50 billion in annual sales and the number one share – 35% – of e-commerce sales. Staples is number two with roughly a 10% share.

Ironically, Amazon also seems to be one step ahead of the all mighty consumer. In fact, one could say Amazon almost single-handedly changed the way consumers shop, and continues to come up with innovations that influence changes in shopping behavior.

However, Bezos is just getting started. Since every day is “Day 1” for him, and since the Amazon.com business model has no boundaries, he can credibly declare: “tomorrow the world.” We hope it will spark your imagination and hopefully illuminate some of the strategic changes and growth possibilities in your own business.

Also in this issue, and consistent with the most disruptive, game-changing period in the history of retailing, Dana Wood describes how Tom Ford is making some new rules in the beauty business. Warren Shoulberg defines the transformation that is going on at Restoration Hardware. Cotton Incorporated has some interesting insight on changing consumer shopping behavior, and Jane Singer gives us consumer and associates’ perspectives on the phenomenal service efforts at Best Buy.

Reprinted here is my blog on the Martha Stewart and JC Penney deal, and what I believe is just the beginning of the runaway expectations the industry has of Penney’s new leader, Ron Johnson.

Finally, anybody who knows Marty Staff, former CEO of Hugo Boss and JA Apparel, could not really say his name without a knowing grin about the fact that you never quite know what you’re going to get, although you do know you’re going to get some game-changing ideas. So, I advise you to read us from cover to cover or from web page to web page, and I guarantee you will learn something new.

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