Amazon E-Commerce vs. AWS

New Jenna6@
Jul 20, 2018 11 Comments

Are there any general advantage/disadvantages to being a product manager in AWS/Alexa vs. Amazon E-Commerce (ex. Amazon Marketplace Org)?

Also, would it be any more difficult for a PM-T to go from retail to AWS or Alexa later?

I’m trying to decide whether I should move ahead with the retail position or wait for a role match in Alexa or AWS.

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TOP 11 Comments
  • Amazon Amazon_O_G
    No question - AWS is more innovative. Amazon retail and marketplace are the mothership and are more mature but not as nimble. Harder to make changes to a behemoth and lots of internal teams need to be involved to make simple changes. I’ve been on both sides and if you like building AWS is way better but it’s technically deeper. If you don’t have a tech background, retail may be a better fit for a PM but there is no way I would ever go back to retail or marketplace. That’s the old guard within amazon (but it’s supporting our other businesses) and q4 was always painful. If I were a PM coming in, I’d look at AWS, Alexa, Advertising, and Prime Video in that order. The only reason I list advertising is because it’s a big investment area for us and we are doing some innovative stuff there if you are into that type of thing. Prime Video has had some leadership challenges but it’s another heavy investment area for us and we are doing some cool stuff there. Alexa is a big investment area for us as well - and I personally love some of their devices. And AI combined with ML is only going to get better so this will continue to be big. And AWS will be foundational to the technology that runs these devices.
    Jul 21, 2018 3
    • New Jenna6@
      OP
      Thanks for the detailed response!
      Any idea whether it would be harder for a PM-T to go from retail to AWS or Alexa later?
      I’m trying to decide whether I should move ahead with the retail position or wait for a role match in Alexa or AWS.
      Jul 21, 2018
    • Amazon Amazon_O_G
      If you are hired as a PM-T, have a technical background, and can work with engineers, it should not be a problem to transfer later. We love internal candidates and if you are female, even better (I’m assuming you are female based on your user name). We definitely need more women on the AWS side and in tech in general.
      Jul 21, 2018
    • New Jenna6@
      OP
      Thanks! Makes me think that I should move ahead with the retail position at hand and not wait for an AWS/Alexa role match.
      Jul 21, 2018
  • Amazon cFl8801V
    I am not PM but talking to a group of PMs discussing the difference between AWS and retail I heard on the retail side you are closer to customers whereas in AWS your role is closer to marketing because already most visions and features are driven by the tech/developers internally. Also AWS is more enterprisesy and this group of PMs preferred closer to customers and away from enterprise.
    Jul 21, 2018 1
    • Amazon Amazon_O_G
      I would agree on retail side you are closer to customers who want to buy consumable products and on AWS side you are closer to developer, startup, and enterprise customers who buy our products/services to help run their business. Totally different set of customers but I would not say the focus is just on enterprises in AWS. We have over 1 mill customers using AWS services (public statement Oct 2016)and the vast majority are developers or startups.

      I would also agree that we do work more with marketing than on the retail side (In fact, we didn’t really even have marketing as an official group on the retail side until more recently. On the AWS side, we need to develop go-to-market plans since we are launching new developer and enterprise services and we need to message those so the value of those services, and how we differentiate are understood. That said, on the AWS side, you also think hard about what services these developer and enterprises need now and in the future (and this is really important). A typical AWS PM is working with developer/enterprise customers to identify needs, advocating for those within their group to the engineering leaders, GM, and VP, writing PR/FAQs, determining pricing with finance and their leadership, driving the naming of the product with others, working with various internal groups such as billing, legal, and tax to create the business framework , creating metrics reports , working with engineers to prioritize features and determine what goes in MVP, creating fo to market plans, creating service detail pages, and driving adoptions. I’m oversimplifying as the PM works with a lot of folks within each of these buckets , and obviously engineering is critical on each step, but it’s a big responsibility.
      Jul 21, 2018
  • Amazon BozosJef
    Don't join Amazon as pm
    Jul 20, 2018 1
    • New Jenna6@
      OP
      Care to elaborate?
      Jul 21, 2018
  • Amazon gDVc56
    In part it also depends on what kind of product manager expertise are you looking for? Retail allows you to solve more direct consumer and commerce related problems, while AWS you will more likely to have developers and enterprise companies as your customers to solve problems for. So take that into account as a product manager candidate. Group wise I would think AWS is more technologically interesting but that's my personal opinion and also I am not a PM :)
    Jul 21, 2018 0
  • Amazon / Eng Starship
    In my experience:
    Retail: very hands on, quite mature, interact directly with consumers, largely building on existing systems, adding features to existing sets, oncall relatively low except lead ups to events, for the most part, pretty straight forward work.

    AWS: fairly abstract, tons of distributed systems work, tons of domain knowledge of systems, relatively new and not as mature, oncall is very common
    Jul 21, 2018 0
  • New Jenna6@
    OP
    Very very helpful @Amazon_O_G! Thanks!!
    Seems you were previously in retail. How does the PMT role in retail, say marketplace or Seller experience or ..., look like? What type of tasks/teams do they work on/with?
    Jul 21, 2018 0

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