Cascade chart/waterfall chart with Amazon's Q3 2017 revenue growth by segment

Amazon's Record Quarter

Amazon's Q3 2017 revenue was $43.7 billion, up 34% or $11B from the Q3 2016.  A $6.6B increase in North American sales accounted for more than half of the increase.  Of the $6.6B, $1.3B was due to the Whole Foods acquisition which occurred on August 28.  International sales contributed $3.1B.  Amazon web services (AWS) had the largest year over year growth in revenue of 55% and contributed $1.4B to the corporate sales increase.  The cascade chart below summarizes the revenue growth by segment from Q3 2016 to Q3 2017:

Amazon's Q3 2017 revenue increase from Q3 2016, broken down by segment and presented in a cascade chart using Mekko Graphics

When quarterly results for the large tech firms came out, Amazon's record revenue quarter garnered a great deal of press.  I wanted to create a chart that help explain why they had such a big revenue increase.  I found this paragraph in their press release:

Net sales increased 34% to $43.7 billion in the third quarter, compared with $32.7 billion in third quarter 2016. Net sales includes $1.3 billion from Whole Foods Market, which Amazon acquired on August 28, 2017. Excluding Whole Foods Market and the $124 million favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 29% compared with third quarter 2016.

I thought a cascade chart might capture the message better than the text.  The chart could show change from Q3 2016 to 2017 broken down by segment.  I could split the North America segment to account for the Whole Foods acquisition either as a stacked segment or in a separate bar.  I could also split out the benefits of foreign exchange that is mentioned in the text.  Finally, I could show year over year percentage growth in a data row.  This would allow me to show that AWS, while smaller in revenue, led the way in growth.  This supported the press that cloud computing was a hot area for Amazon (and Microsoft and Google).

In making the chart, I decided to roll the foreign exchange benefit into the International segment as it was very small.  I split out the Whole Foods contribution as it made up a significant percentage of the North American growth.  I also removed the axis lines and tick marks to make the chart cleaner.  I hid all the segment labels, except for Whole Foods.  Other values were captured in the bar totals.  I used data scaling to change the segment information, which was in millions in the press release, into billions.  I added the axis breaks to the total bars to highlight the segment change bars. Finally, I added the bar comparison line to show the overall absolute and percentage change in revenue from Q3 2016 to 2017.

Learn more about the different types of cascade charts and how to use them by visiting All About Cascade Charts.

Feel free to download the chart and edit it using Mekko Graphics.