Diego Piacentini
Diego Piacentini
Senior Vice President, International Retail

While Amazon may have started as a domestic operation, 45% of the company's sales now occur abroad in nine countries like China, Germany and Japan. Piacentini is responsible for all international retail operations, a segment that raked in $4.9 billion in revenues last quarter.

What he's discovered during nearly 11 years with the company is that these cultures share more similarities than differences -- at least when it comes to retail. "It turns out that all customers around the world, be they Chinese or African or European, they like low prices," he said during a Stanford University lecture.

Customers also particularly like getting cash back. Piancentini recalled an instance in 2005, when he insisted the company refund 5 RMB -- the equivalent of less than $1 U.S. dollar at the time -- to 5,000 Chinese customers who bought a Harry Potter book from Amazon before a price drop. "This is something that probably no retailer had ever done in China before," he said. "But as a global company with the same principle of customer obsession, it turned out not only [to be] a good thing for the customer, it was also the best marketing activity we did that year."

By JP Mangalindan, Writer-Reporter @FortuneMagazine - Last updated January 05 2012: 1:07 PM ET
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