Amazon Has a Long Track Record of Failures

Amazon isn't afraid to fail. And that's given Amazon a long track record of failures when it comes to entering a new market.

Analysts give Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) a lot of credit these days.

The company can single-handedly alter a business environment overnight … or at least that’s what analysts would lead you to believe.

Amazon’s latest market-moving announcement was that it was close to deciding on entering the online pharmaceutical drug marketplace.

Let me repeat that.

Amazon is “close to deciding.” It hasn’t even decided yet.

But that didn’t stop stocks like CVS Health Corp. (NYSE: CVS) from dropping over 7% in the days following the news. It’s as if analysts think whatever Amazon touches is automatically changed forever.


That’s simply not the case.

The reality is that Amazon is not afraid to fail. That’s what has made the company the giant it is today.

But it’s also given Amazon a long track record of failures when it comes to entering a new market.

As I’ll show you in a second, there are many failures as examples.

But it’s this history of failure for the company that causes me to see these attempts to enter new markets as an opportunity to buy the same stocks that were sold off on the announcement, despite what analysts say.

Let me explain…

Epic Fail

I’ll start with a list of Amazon’s failures over the years since these don’t seem to come up often when an analyst is praising the company.

The Fire Phone is probably the biggest.

Expected to compete with the iPhone and Samsung phones, and met with much praise right out of the gate from Amazon users, it ended up being a big flop. At one point, Amazon couldn’t even give the phone away for $0.99. Amazon wrote off $170 million for its failed attempt into the smartphone market.

It launched Destinations in 2015 to be a marketplace for hotel deals. This failed in just six months.

Amazon Local was launched in 2011 to take on Groupon and LivingSocial. That was deemed a failure in 2015.

Amazon Wallet was a mobile wallet to compete with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. After just six months of being on the market, it was shut down and considered a failure.

Amazon Local Register was set to compete with Square Reader, an attachment on your mobile device to accept credit cards. In 2016, this product was shuttered and called a failure as well.

And these are just a few of its failed forays into new markets.

Some other failed attempts are Music Importer, TestDrive, WebPay,, Askville and This list doesn’t include failed ideas that never made it to the market, or ideas that are currently on the market but have failed miserably at living up to analysts’ expectations.

For example, Amazon entered the food delivery space in 2015, attempting to make companies like GrubHub Inc. (NYSE: GRUB) irrelevant. But GrubHub still controls about half of that market thanks to a recent acquisition, compared to Amazon’s 11% market share.

And then there’s handmade goods.

Amazon entered this market in 2015 with Handmade at Amazon, and analysts were positive it would be the end for Etsy Inc. (Nasdaq: ETSY). But Etsy, the first to make homemade goods widely marketable and which Amazon was chasing, continues to thrive, with expected sales growth of more than 15% each year for the next three years.

To Amazon’s credit, it has gotten some things right — like selling books, an online marketplace and the cloud.

But the list of things it has gotten wrong is much longer.

That’s the reason why when Amazon wants to enter a new market, it doesn’t faze me.

A Lot of Red Tape for Amazon

And that brings me to your opportunity today.

With Amazon’s mention of the pharmaceutical drug space, CVS plunged on the news.

Look: Even if Amazon does make that move into the pharmaceutical drug market, it doesn’t mean everyone suddenly stops going to CVS.

CVS is the largest, and most diversified, pharmacy chain in the U.S. With 9,700 pharmacies across the country, it also has over 1,000 MinuteClinics to quickly get patients looked at for minor issues without having to go out of your way to go to a doctor’s office — which I think we can agree everyone hates doing.

Besides being able to get checked for an illness at the pharmacy, you can get your prescriptions filled almost right away.

CVS also has a mail-order segment, which is what Amazon wants to compete with, and a long-term care focus, among other specialty needs.

I know Amazon is all about online sales. But there is a lot of red tape, which I’m sure is what Amazon is looking at, about dropping pain meds on someone’s doorstep — most regulators don’t want pills ending up in just anyone’s hands.

So, there is a wall of red tape around that process, and CVS and others are working on breaking through that as well. So Amazon won’t be alone there.

That’s why I still like owning CVS even if Amazon enters the market. Because as Etsy, GrubHub and Amazon’s countless other failures have proven, not everything Amazon touches is disrupted.

And at this point, Amazon still may avoid this market altogether, and that announcement could send CVS popping 10% higher practically overnight.


Chad Shoop, CMT
Editor, Automatic Profits Alert

  • navigator30

    I suspect a similar argument could be made for their acquisition of Whole Foods. The grocery business is a tough business with thin margins. Probably thinner than any Amazon has worked with so far. I’m not ready to write off Kroger and Wal-Mart just yet.

  • FreeOregon

    Will we ever know the relationship between Amazon and the CIA? The CIA gave Amazon a $500 million contract and Amazon then bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Who is the real owner of the Washington Post? Is off budget government financing the secret to Amazon’s longevity without profit?