ONLINE RETAIL

Five years on: Amazon inducts three loyal Spanish customers into hall of fame

The internet giant pulled out all the stops for a party to celebrate half-a-decade in Spain

The Amazon.es best customers, in blue jackets, at the company’s five-year anniversary party Wednesday.
The Amazon.es best customers, in blue jackets, at the company’s five-year anniversary party Wednesday.carlos rosillo

Alejandro Iino still has a record of his first Amazon purchase on his phone: a Kindle that he purchased five years ago. Since that date he has hit the “proceed to checkout” button around 1,000 times.

“A lot of the time I’m buying things for friends or family,” Iino explains. Initially his basket was mainly stuffed with video games but now that he is a father, diapers also make it onto the virtual shopping list. Mostly though, it’s technology products.

The customers were handed a €500 voucher before being given a round of applause and showered with confetti

Iino is one of three hugely loyal Spain-based customers who were inducted in the Amazon customer hall of fame during an event at the company’s logistics center in the outskirts of Madrid on Wednesday.

The celebration, marking five years of the company in Spain, saw Iino and other fellow long-term customers walk the length of an orange carpet in the presence of the director general of Amazon.es, François Nuyts, and Fred Pattje, who is the general director of operations for the firm. They were then handed a €500 voucher before being given a round of applause and showered with orange confetti.

Pattje used the festivities to celebrate the rapid growth of the company in Spain: from 2.3 million products available on the opening day of trading on September 14, 2014 to the 157 million products currently up for grabs, and from a mere 40 employees to the current crop of 1,372 staff.

That growth can be measured in purely physical terms too. Floor space at the warehouse in San Fernando de Henares has increased from 28,000 square meters to 77,000 square meters.

In terms of the recipe for that success, Pattje put it down to the “magic behind the click”.

“If people don’t buy, we can’t invest and we can’t create jobs,” the operations chief said.

“Things never stop here,” added Ivan, who has been with the company for four years.

Amazon.es general director Nuyts praised his “fantastic team,” one that has allowed for the successful roll-out of the company’s Prime Now express delivery service, which Amazon launched this summer in Madrid and which promises delivery on some items within the hour. While the company is tight-lipped on precise details, it says take-up of the service has been fantastic, with the Spanish capital now using the service more than any other European city.

Nuyts also boasted of Amazon’s “highly competitive prices, and unbeatable delivery times,” but did note that “clients have to adapt to Amazon” and not the other way around. “It’s a very powerful machine.”

Floor space at the warehouse has increased from 28,000m2 to 77,00m2

Rapid expansion is also expected in the next five years, with the firm planning to open a new logistics center near Barcelona’s El Prat airport toward the end of 2017: a 60,000-square meter facility that should generate some 1,500 jobs over three years.

There is still room for improvement though. One of the new hall-of-famers told Nuyts not everything was about speed of delivery: the company needed to establish more pick-up points for products, while product descriptions needed to be better.

“I almost always have to go to the product’s home page to get more information about it,” explained loyal customer Pedro.

English version by George Mills.

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