Top 10 Ways Amazon Makes Money

Stephanie Rayner
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Top 10 Ways Amazon Makes Money

Amazon, founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, has grown from an online bookstore to one of the largest and most influential companies in the world. With a market capitalization of over $1.5 trillion, Amazon’s success can be attributed to its diverse revenue streams and innovative business strategies. In this article, we will explore the top 10 ways Amazon makes money, backed by research, examples, and statistics.

1. E-commerce

Amazon’s primary source of revenue is its e-commerce platform. The company offers a vast selection of products, ranging from books and electronics to clothing and household items. With millions of customers worldwide, Amazon’s e-commerce business generates substantial revenue through product sales. In 2020 alone, Amazon’s net sales reached a staggering $386 billion, representing a 38% increase compared to the previous year.

2. Amazon Prime

One of Amazon’s most successful ventures is its subscription service, Amazon Prime. For an annual fee, Prime members enjoy benefits such as free two-day shipping, access to streaming services like Prime Video and Prime Music, and exclusive deals. As of 2021, Amazon Prime has over 200 million subscribers worldwide. The subscription revenue from Prime memberships contributes significantly to Amazon’s overall profitability.

3. Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the leading cloud computing platform, providing on-demand computing power, storage, and other services to businesses and individuals. AWS offers a wide range of services, including virtual servers, databases, machine learning tools, and content delivery networks. With a market share of around 32%, AWS generates substantial revenue for Amazon. In the first quarter of 2021, AWS accounted for 12% of Amazon’s total net sales.

4. Advertising

Amazon has become a major player in the digital advertising industry. Through its advertising platform, Amazon Advertising, the company allows businesses to promote their products and services to millions of customers. Amazon’s vast customer data and sophisticated targeting capabilities make its advertising platform highly effective. In 2020, Amazon’s advertising revenue reached $21.5 billion, representing a 52% increase compared to the previous year.

5. Third-Party Seller Services

Amazon provides a platform for third-party sellers to sell their products through its marketplace. These sellers pay fees to Amazon for services such as storage, fulfillment, and advertising. In return, they gain access to Amazon’s vast customer base and benefit from the company’s logistics infrastructure. In 2020, third-party seller services accounted for 55% of Amazon’s total unit sales.

6. Subscription Services

In addition to Amazon Prime, Amazon offers various other subscription services that contribute to its revenue. These include Amazon Music Unlimited, a music streaming service, and Kindle Unlimited, a subscription-based e-book service. By diversifying its subscription offerings, Amazon taps into different market segments and generates additional revenue streams.

7. Physical Stores

While Amazon is primarily an online retailer, the company has also ventured into the physical retail space. Amazon operates various types of physical stores, including Amazon Go, Amazon Books, and Amazon 4-star. These stores provide customers with a unique shopping experience and serve as a showcase for Amazon’s products and technologies.

8. Amazon Studios

Amazon Studios is the entertainment division of Amazon, responsible for producing and distributing original content. Through its streaming service, Prime Video, Amazon offers a wide range of movies, TV shows, and original series. By investing in original content, Amazon attracts and retains Prime members, driving subscription revenue and increasing customer engagement.

9. Kindle E-readers and Books

Amazon revolutionized the book industry with the introduction of the Kindle e-reader. Kindle devices, along with e-books, generate significant revenue for Amazon. By offering a wide selection of e-books at competitive prices, Amazon has become a dominant player in the digital publishing market.

10. Acquisitions and Investments

Amazon has a history of strategic acquisitions and investments that contribute to its revenue growth. Notable acquisitions include Whole Foods Market, a grocery store chain, and Ring, a home security company. By expanding its portfolio of businesses, Amazon diversifies its revenue streams and strengthens its position in various industries.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. How does Amazon make money from third-party sellers?

Amazon charges third-party sellers fees for services such as storage, fulfillment, and advertising. These fees contribute to Amazon’s revenue, and the company benefits from increased product selection and customer satisfaction.

2. What is the revenue share between Amazon’s e-commerce and AWS?

In recent years, AWS has accounted for around 10-12% of Amazon’s total net sales, while e-commerce remains the primary revenue driver for the company.

3. How does Amazon Advertising work?

Amazon Advertising allows businesses to promote their products on Amazon’s platform. Advertisers can target specific customer segments based on their browsing and purchasing behavior, increasing the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns.

4. How does Amazon Prime contribute to Amazon’s revenue?

Amazon Prime generates revenue through annual membership fees. Additionally, Prime members tend to spend more on Amazon’s e-commerce platform, further boosting the company’s revenue.

5. What is the significance of Amazon’s physical stores?

Amazon’s physical stores serve as a way to showcase its products and technologies. They also provide customers with a unique shopping experience and help drive brand awareness and customer loyalty.

6. How does Amazon benefit from its acquisitions and investments?

Through strategic acquisitions and investments, Amazon expands its business portfolio and diversifies its revenue streams. These acquisitions also allow Amazon to enter new markets and leverage synergies with its existing businesses.


Amazon’s success can be attributed to its diverse revenue streams and innovative business strategies. The company generates significant revenue through e-commerce, Amazon Prime subscriptions, Amazon Web Services, advertising, and third-party seller services. Additionally, Amazon’s physical stores, Kindle e-readers, and investments in original content contribute to its revenue growth. By continuously expanding and diversifying its business, Amazon remains a dominant force in the global market.