Amazon’s private brands

Most companies can do well if they double down on success.

Around 2009, Amazon quietly entered the private label business by offering a handful of items under a new brand called AmazonBasics. Early offerings were the kinds of unglamorous products that consumers typically bought at their local hardware store: power cords and cables for electronics and, in particular, batteries — with prices roughly 30 percent lower than that of national brands like Energizer and Duracell.

The results were stunning. In just a few years, AmazonBasics had grabbed nearly a third of the online market for batteries, outselling both Energizer and Duracell on its site.

Inside Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, that success raised a tantalizing possibility. If, with very little effort, Amazon could become a huge player in the battery market, what else might be possible for the company?

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