Get All Access for $5/mo

What You Can Learn About Innovation from Amazon, Starbucks and USPS How do the big companies stay on top? Take a look at some of the new customer-service ideas Amazon, USPS and Starbucks have in store.

By Carol Tice Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What You Can Learn About Innovation from Amazon, Starbucks and UPSHow do the big, name-brand companies stay on top? One answer is innovation. Besides acquiring smaller, innovative companies, most giant brands also put a lot of energy into research and development. So they're constantly testing out new ideas in every element of their business, from marketing strategy to products.

Here are three of latest and greatest ideas that recently caught my eye, which come courtesy of Starbucks, Amazon and USPS:

Starbucks recently opened a portable store in the Seattle area that's made from four stackable shipping containers. The store offers many possibilities. It's moveable like a food truck, but offers a different look and feel. Maybe they could plop it down in different cities, or as a test store in a prospective market. If customers don't come, they could try again a few blocks away.

At the same time, the store makes a statement about Starbucks' commitment to the environment. It's essentially a recycled store. On the exterior reads the company's motto: "regenerate, reuse, recycle, renew, reclaim." It also has a tiny footprint, under 500 square feet.

The company says it may use them in the parking lot while stores are being remodeled or constructed. What a great way to start building your audience before you open.

For its part, Amazon is testing out a new delivery method for its many packages -- PIN-based, self-service lockers they place at a nearby 7-Eleven or other 24/7 convenience store. If you're not home much, you could pop by your locker when it's convenient and keep your packages secure in the meanwhile. They're trying out these lockers in Seattle, New York and London.

USPS likes this idea, too -- they're testing "gopost" parcel lockers outside post offices in Northern Virginia. The lockers enable customers to receive high-value items such as smartphones in a secure way, then retrieve them anytime.

These news twists show how valuable it is to rethink every aspect of your business. Not all new initiatives should be about products or services. It'll be interesting to see how these innovations are received by customers.

What new idea will your business try out this year? Leave a comment and tell us about your experiments.

Carol Tice

Owner of Make a Living Writing

Longtime Seattle business writer Carol Tice has written for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Delta Sky and many more. She writes the award-winning Make a Living Writing blog. Her new ebook for Oberlo is Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

This 26-Year-Old's Side Hustle That 'Anybody Can Do' Grew to Earn $170,000 a Month. Here's What Happened When I Tested It.

Stephen Alvarez was working at a dental supply company and following his passion for cars on the side — then an Instagram ad changed everything.

Business News

Serena Williams Once Tried to Deposit a $1 Million Check at an ATM Drive-Thru: 'I Never Played for Money'

The tennis legend recently appeared on an episode of "Hot Ones" with Sean Evans.

Business News

Wells Fargo Analysts Tested 75 Bowls at Chipotle — and the Portion Sizes Were Wildly Inconsistent

Zachary Fadem and a team of analysts ordered the same bowl 75 times at eight different NYC restaurants.

Business News

Mark Zuckerberg Says an Upcoming Meta Product Left Testers 'Giddy'

Meta is almost ready to show this gadget to the public.

Business News

Over 10 Billion Passwords Have Been Exposed in the Largest Password Hack in History

The data is thought to have been collected over the past two decades.