Amazon’s Organizational Structure
An interactive chart and full post that covers everything from corporate structure, the history of Amazon, and Amazon’s success.
Amazon is the American electronic commerce and cloud computing company based in Seattle, Washington, that we’re all very familiar with. Founded by Jeff Bezos in July 1994, Amazon is the world’s largest Internet retailer measured by both revenue and market capitalization and is the second largest in total sales volume after China’s Alibaba Group.
Amazon initially started life as an online bookstore, however, Bezos recognized that the only way to succeed online was to grow big, and fast! Taking full advantage of the impending Internet boom, Bezos rapidly expanded Amazon’s product offerings and services over time.
Today, Amazon sells everything from books to television sets and car parts to outhouses. It has become a one-stop-shop for almost any product and a range of other business ventures, such as Amazon Web Services, provide a range of other solutions to industry-leading companies and even government agencies such as the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The secret to Amazon’s success
In its early days, the main appeal of Amazon to its customers was that of pure convenience. Thanks to Amazon, it was no longer necessary to physically visit a bookstore and search for the latest title. At the time, the ability to search, select, and buy a book from the comfort of your own home was a huge innovation, and the fact that Amazon would deliver your purchase was seen by many as nothing short of incredible.
Amazon’s success wasn’t really about the goods they were selling or the convenience factor, though. Rather, Amazon owed its success to the service that they offered. This helped the company build a significant and loyal customer base and, in the long run, big profits. By adding customer reviews to the Amazon.com website, Bezos fostered a customer community that made the site more appealing and trustworthy to new customers.
Amazon’s organizational structure
Although the Amazon.com service and experience were and still are at the core of the company’s success, the characteristics of the company’s organizational structure also play a huge role.
The thing about Amazon’s organizational structure is that it enables extensive top-down control over global e-commerce operations. This is ideal because the company has various operations in different business areas. As a leading online business, it’s imperative for Amazon to maintain a structure that supports its diverse and rapidly expanding market reach.
Amazon’s organizational structure is a functional one that focuses on different business functions and components as bases for defining the interactions and reporting relationships among these different components. As you can see from Amazon’s org structure that we’ve recreated with our org chart tool Organimi, it consists of three primary components:
- An overarching global hierarchy
- Global groups based on function
- Geographic divisions with their own sub-divisions
An overarching global hierarchy
Corporations swear by hierarchical structures. They were the very first type of org structure and most big businesses still use them today, especially those with a global reach like Amazon. In the case of Amazon.com, the hierarchy is expressed in terms of a global system of clear lines of authority that heavily influence the firm’s operations.
For example, Jeff Bezos sits at the top exercising ultimate control over all senior executives and managers, who in turn apply directives through the sectors under their control either at their own discretion or at the direction of Jeff Bezos. These directives impact all relevant offices of the company all over the world.
It is overarching hierarchies like this that enable complete managerial control over entire organizations, even where there are multiple product lines, services, and divisions.
Global groups based on functions
The strongest part of Amazon’s org structure is its function-based global groups. Each major business function has its own dedicated group that is headed by an executive-level manager, such as a CEO or SVP. By structuring the company in this way, Amazon can efficiently and successfully manage its e-commerce operations throughout the entire organization. This structure also enables Amazon to more easily establish operations in new and emerging markets.
Amazon’s primary global groups, at the time of writing and in no particular order, are:
- Office of the CEO, headed by Jeff Bezos
- Amazon Web Services, headed by CEO Andy Jassy
- Business and Corporate Development, headed by SVP Jeff Blackburn
- Finance, headed by SVP & CFO Brian Olsavsky
- Worldwide Consumer, headed by CEO Jeff Wilke
- Legal, headed by SVP David Zapolsky
- Worldwide Controller (Accounting), headed by VP Shelley Reynolds
- Corporate Affairs, headed by SVP Jay Carney
Geographic divisions and their sub-divisions
Amazon’s organizational structure also incorporates geographic divisions. The company bases groups on their physical geographic locations and related business goals. For example, Amazon.com Inc., the e-commerce arm of the company, uses these divisions to make it easier to manage the e-commerce business based on the niceties of these regions, their regulatory framework, and any challenges such as logistics.
The strategic advantage of splitting elements of the company into geographic divisions is that it enables Amazon to better and more accurately address issues or problems relevant to each region, and to do so efficiently, in light of the regional markets themselves.
Despite Amazon’s size, however, the company only has two geographic divisions: 1) North America and 2) International.
Why Amazon’s org chart structure is effective
Amazon’s org structure works because it is highly effective at supporting international growth in a variety of different markets. The company’s continued success in expanding and growing its many areas of operation are testament to it working well.
The major advantage to Amazon of its overall hierarchical structure is that it enables Amazon.com, Inc. to quickly and effectively address and implement directives from senior managers, executives, and stakeholders business wide. At the same time, global and geographic divisions are advantageous in supporting the focus on different the many different facets of the business and geographic locations that come with their own challenges and economic conditions.
Create this chart in Organimi!
You can download the CSV file of Amazon’s org structure, import it into Organimi and start editing this chart right away! Here’s how:
- From your dashboard, select Data Import.
- Click the CSV tile.
- Click +Upload Your File.
- Select an Excel file from your device.
- In the Organization field, click the down arrow to select an organization.
- Click Create a New Chart
- Click Next and select: Organization Chart
- Select the auto-build tool to automatically build your chart.
Download CSV file:
Amazon-Organizational-Structure (3.31 KB)
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