Letter to Retailers: The problem is not Amazon, it’s you!
Create an Atmosphere of Convenience to Solve Your Pain Points
Check any digital marketer’s website and you’ll see a wide variety of services offered. From search engine optimization to paid outreach and everything in-between, the goal is stated in different ways, but with the same outcome: Use our services to give yourself a chance at success.
That is the world of the digital transformation. It feels like a necessary gamble for businesses of almost any size because everyone fears what Amazon is doing.When sales targets are not met, the digital marketer is blamed for a lack of results.
You’ll see plenty of content about how SEO destroyed businesses online today.Here’s an interesting “what if” question: What if the reason why businesses cannot achieve success against Amazon is because they don’t take the same holistic approach to their customers that Amazon does?
To be competitive with the giants of the e-commerce industry, we must begin to understand what they do and how they do it. Then we must replicate it.
How Does Amazon Remove Its Pain Points?
Amazon removes its pain points by using the data it collects to improve the customer experience. Even if someone doesn’t complete a purchase, they have still given Amazon data that can improve the next experience. That allows Amazon to create an atmosphere of convenience.
Convenience can be seen throughout the entire purchasing and service spectrum. Here are some of the methods that they use.
Real customer service specialists that are empowered to correct problems instead of escalating them to a supervisor.
Empathy for problematic situations that is genuine, instead of scripted.
Data usage that includes recommended items and follow-up emails that feel personalized instead of robotic.
Return policies that make sense and are not judgmental toward the customer.That’s not to say every experience with Amazon is perfect. A member of my team ordered a Doctor Who Christmas ornament for his daughter a couple years ago from Amazon. He received a set of Doc McStuffins hair clips instead.
He called customer service to report the issue. The representative didn’t believe him. Thankfully, the inventory sticker was still on the hair clips item. He relayed the inventory number to the representative, who then checked their supply. Low and behold, the ornament stock was +1 and the hair clips stock was -1.
Once this was confirmed, Amazon shipped the correct item and let him keep the hair clips.It may not be perfect, though it is pretty close. When personal interactions become an easy option, whether from self-service returns or through human interaction, it is easier to be competitive. That is how the atmosphere of convenience begins to be replicated.
How Big Data Creates an Atmosphere of Convenience
The biggest advantage Amazon utilizes is a collaborative filtering engine. It evaluates the data from previous searches and purchases to create future purchasing recommendations.If you look at a series of action movies, for example, then similar action movies are recommended to you for evaluation. By using the power of suggestion, Amazon sees revenue-boosts of up to 30%.That’s just one way that Amazon creates convenience by properly using the data it collects from its customers. Here are some more examples of what Amazon provides during the shopping experience.
One-Click Ordering. Convenience means skipping multiple checkout steps. By allowing a one-click order, Amazon makes it possible to store payment and shipping information to make it very convenient to purchase products. You also have a 30-minute window to cancel the purchase.
Analytics Implementation. It almost feels like Amazon is stalking you because of the knowledge it obtains through consumer analytics. Amazon implements marketing strategies from the data it collects to appeal to spending habits, product preferences, and other analytics that are generated with each visit.
Price Point Optimization. Product prices can change several times per day on Amazon in certain categories, based on how consumers react to items. Competitor pricing, ordering history, product availability, and an expected profit margin may influence these structures as well.
Data is even used to optimize Amazon’s supply chain. By working with manufacturers and shippers to track inventory and deliveries, Amazon can utilize the closest warehouse and shipper to a customer. This process can save up to 40% on shipping costs, especially when product groups and delivery routes are optimized.
Getting a big subsidy from the U.S. Postal Service helps as well. Can your brand compete on this level? Probably not. Are there lessons you can learn from this infrastructure that can be applied to your business? Absolutely.
Are Your Interactions Based on Data? Or Based on Guts?
The biggest pain point most businesses face today involves how they use data. To be blunt, most businesses today use gut instincts more than they use the data they collect to make decisions.
Some can succeed with the guts approach.
Most fail. Failure occurs because an online-offline disconnect is created. The brand looks awesome online, then fails to deliver through awful customer service. You might have an awesome product or service, but a customer service nightmare will stop customers cold. Or worse: your brand is taking a robotic approach to every consumer interaction. From automated response emails to automated follow-ups to automated customer service calls, holistic interactions are always valued higher than AI interactions.
At the same time, businesses are seeing a shrinking market share and are experiencing losses due to increased competition. This creates an atmosphere of desperation.When customers sense desperation, any marketing effort will result in disappointing sales and leads. That usually creates even more desperation, which leads to future ill-thought advertising and marketing efforts.
Meanwhile, Amazon continues to thrive because it continually enhances its atmosphere of convenience. Most retailers do not have a strategy to use data properly. Some don’t even understand the concept of using data to promote their brand. They rely on their previous experiences and knowledge, gathered at a time when consumers were not the dominant force online.And it does not work.
Some businesses have a legitimate complaint about their martech and digital marketers. As with any industry, there are some marketers out there that just want to make some quick cash at the expense of the brand’s need to grow. Then there are the businesses which assign blame to a marketer or marketing strategy because it is easier to blame someone for failure than accept it. To be successful, every business must create holistic approaches that lead to an atmosphere of convenience. That must become the backbone of who you are and what you do.
Once that’s created, you have the ability to reach out to your targeted demographics and begin to build your brand. The need for one-stop convenience is only going to increase. Now is the time to put that into your brand infrastructure. Once you do, those pain points may start to fade away.