The “Amazon effect” refers to the ongoing disruption in retail and rising consumer expectations driven by e-commerce. Some of the most significant changes that Amazon.com has had on consumer expectations are related to one-click ordering, free shipping, faster delivery, and extraordinary customer service. The online retail giant has also driven physical retailers to make in-store shopping a more compelling experience for consumers. If a retailer can’t meet these standards, both online and offline, it’s harder for it to convert consumers into customers.
However, Amazon’s continued growth doesn’t mean other brands don’t stand a chance of succeeding against the retail giant. Here are six tips for winning in the age of Amazon:
1. Be digitally smart.
Consumers expect to find retailers online and to have a good experience shopping their websites, whether they’re using their phone or computer. Slow page load times and frustrating user experiences can be costly as shoppers simply click away to a competitor’s site. Retailers should make sure their site pages load quickly, are user friendly, and are mobile responsive. Clearly displayed products, enticing product descriptions, and easy-to-navigate customer service are key details that shouldn’t be overlooked.
2. Focus on the store and staff.
As the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover” — yet everyone does. A storefront is no different. Retail locations should be clean, welcoming and inviting, making shoppers want to explore and discover things they’d like to buy. Popular products should be placed in strategic locations to encourage visitors to venture further inside. Digital technology, such as virtual fitting rooms, digital price tags, automated checkout, and more can also help reinvent the in-store experience while increasing convenience for shoppers.
While appearance, product placement and in-store technology can go a long way, retailers shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that their employees are the most important creators of the in-store experience. Investing in knowledgeable and friendly sales staff is key. Sales associates with a deep understanding of customer needs and the products they sell create a more personalized experience that entice shoppers to buy.
3. Bridge the generation gap.
The shopping habits and expectations of baby boomers, millennials, Gen X, and Gen Z shoppers vary greatly. Some generations may prefer the convenience of online shopping, while others favor brick-and-mortar stores. To build lasting relationships, retailers must adapt their brand experience in a way that accommodates their customers unique purchasing preferences.
4. Be social.
It’s no secret that social media has shifted the power from brands to consumers, giving shoppers the freedom to voice their opinions about a product or company in a very public way. Even when shopping in-store, consumers can browse various social platforms to see what other people think about a product or brand. Maintaining an active presence on social media enables retailers to engage consumers in authentic, two-way dialog while getting a better understanding of their needs, preferences and passions in the process.
5. Post and promote reviews.
Retailers should never underestimate the power of reviews. Today’s shoppers depend on online reviews the way their parents depended on a friend’s recommendation. Ask for and incentivize customers to leave online reviews post-purchase. By posting honest reviews, not just positive ones, retailers can win the trust of potential customers, allowing them to come to their own conclusions.
6. Measure and optimize marketing.
Retailers can no longer assume the customer journey started where the transaction took place. Consumers may navigate across multiple channels and touchpoints — both digital and physical — just to make a single purchase. Retailers need a holistic view of the customer journey so they can understand and optimize the interactions that led to a sale. By embracing sophisticated measurement approaches, such as multitouch attribution, retailers can ensure credit is accurately assigned to all the marketing touchpoints that influenced a digital or offline sale. Retailers can then use these insights to allocate spend to the best-performing channels and tactics, and better optimize the omnichannel customer experience.
Amazon remains a looming threat for many retailers, but the situation isn’t all gloom and doom. With the right know-how and tools, retailers can keep their doors open, and shoppers coming back for more.