Not to be content with creating the showrooming movement, Amazon recently announced it will start making deliveries on Sundays (possibly by drones). While this service will initially be available in just a few cities, it’s just a matter of time before it becomes commonplace across the U.S. But why should this matter to retailers? And, more importantly, what can they do about it?
Amazon has always captured the consumer through experience, price and convenience; with this new offering, the company will now be delivering speed – and enhanced convenience. Amazon has its finger on the pulse of not only today’s shopper, but also tomorrow’s customer. Amazon is slowly chipping away at the frustrations of shopping.
While fear is a natural reaction to Amazon’s business model (and indisputable success), it’s the wrong response from retailers. If retailers want to have a fighting chance, they need to regroup, educate themselves and take action – now.
So, here are five actions retailers can do to give themselves a fighting chance – because Amazon isn’t going away anytime soon.
The most critical element retailers need to remember: Consumers are human. While it sounds obvious and cliché, the truth is, it’s easy to hide behind email lists, foot-traffic numbers, website visitors and app downloads. But at the other side of all of that information is a human who wants to be sure they’re getting the right item at the price in the fastest way possible.
Never has this been easier or more doable than today. Retailers and marketers can now provide the most personalized experience shoppers have ever known. Why should Amazon be the only one making recommendations about products consumers might like? With the technology available today, you can let your valued customer know about special sales the day before they happen, that new shipments of his/her favorite brands have just arrived or that offers are about to expire.
Know your options.
Technology continues to evolve, leaving many retailers feeling lost and overwhelmed. While it can seem daunting to keep up with the latest trends, it’s important to know your options and their corresponding benefits. For example, while most companies know the important role mobile can play, they don’t know exactly how to develop and deploy a strategy that will resonate with their audiences. Many design and launch an app, just to have a “mobile strategy.”
Always start with your customer in mind. When they take out their phone in your store, what do they want? What’s their mission? Think of how you can fulfill that mission. Don’t forget to think beyond the app. Mobile offers so many opportunities to enhance your customer’s unique experience with your brand – and in ways more personal than any other channels. Become familiar with tools such as mobile wallets (e.g., Google Wallet or Apple’s Passbook), SMS and MMS and design ways to build the most relevant of these into your multichannel strategy.
Omni is the only channel.
Speaking of multichannel strategies, omnichannel is no longer a buzzword – it’s reality. Integrating seamless customer experiences across all available shopping channels is a must. A customer’s experience with Amazon can begin at several different points – the Web, a mobile phone, a tablet, etc. – and ends on the doorstep (even on Sunday).
Ask yourself these questions: How will your mobile strategy complement and support your Web experience? What opportunities are you offering consumers to use their mobile phones to enhance their in-store experience? How do you connect with your customers when they’re not in your store or on your site? If you don’t have answers to these questions, I would recommend you find some…soon.
Stop playing catch up.
Just like how it “led” the showrooming movement, Amazon continues to give consumers the experience they desire. To compete against this, you need to not only deploy a mobile strategy, you need to really understand how the customer uses their mobile phone during the buying process. When a customer uses his or her phone, they’re using the phone as a tool to solve a mission they have. It might be finding product reviews. Or making sure they’re getting the market price for a product.
Start with a small experiment to deliver a tool for your customer. Read a lot. Experiment again. Only in trying new things, measuring impact and revising based on what worked and what didn’t will help you learn what’s going to stick for your customers. Starbucks tried mobile payment in stores, decided it worked and rolled it out in the same amount of time it took most retailers to hire a consultant to figure out their mobile strategy.
Don’t be afraid to fail.
You can’t experiment without failure. And you can’t compete if you don’t try. The best thing about technology today is that it allows you to do things quickly – and often with minimal investment – to sample them. Mobile app didn’t stick? Try a mobile wallet campaign. Email campaign wasn’t a success? Try delivering a new in-store experience. To keep up and succeed today, you need to adopt a “rinse-wash-and-repeat” mentality.
Because Amazon’s new delivery option is definitely a sign of things to come, it represents more reason than ever for retailers to think about alternative strategies, such as mobile, to drive customers into their brick-and-mortar stores.