How to leapfrog Amazon
The ever increasing dominance of Amazon is due to one thing - their relentless focus on finding innovative ways to make it easier for people to shop with them. Need something today, need something weird and niche, need something cheaply - all no problem. Got your hands full, just ask Alexa to do it. Want to know what to wear, then use Echo Look.
Amazon’s strength hasn’t come about by accident, if you’ve read about Jeff Bezos and his focus on Day One, you’ll understand the graft that goes on to achieve their position.
So how do you compete? Can you compete?
I’ve been chatting to several retail user experience leads, boards and CEOs over the past few months. And I’ve come up with the following mantra - simple, seamless, scalable - to frame what retail companies need to do in order to compete with, and in their own way, move to leapfrog Amazon.
You’re trying to get someone from finding a product to fulfilment, it should be easy right. Of course we know it’s not. Making a decision is a complex thing for people to do (something for another post perhaps) and the job of the retailer is to understand their audience as best as they can in order to support the decision making process ("move with the grain of human behaviour” as one of my colleagues would say).
I’m constantly amazed at how poorly organisations understand their customers. They have data, they have segmentation, they may have even developed personas. But they don’t know how their customers shop. This is the fundamental thing to fix.
The current state of omni-channel retail experiences is pretty clunky. A series of multiple channels run in parallel by separate teams who are each targeted with separate KPIs - often meaning they compete with each other internally for a sale. If you go into a store you’re not recognised as the person that put in an enquiry online, if you call the call centre they don’t know what you’ve been looking at previously. Customers can end up having the same conversation multiple times to get to their required outcome. It’s inefficient for them and expensive for you.
As you seek to understand how your customers shop, you’ll begin to get the insight into how people move between channels, where the pain points are in the processes (from both design and operational issues), and what can be done to resolve them and make your experience as seamless as possible.
Technology is developing at a pace. And new ways for people to interact with you are being developed the whole time - voice, chat and so on.
Yet so many bad tech decisions have been made over the past few years. Tools have been bought for the promise of functionality then not implemented (personalisation anyone?). Those decisions have locked organisations into expensive suppliers and not getting the returns they deserve. It also means that they can’t easily integrate new
We’re constantly talking to people about the benefits of loosely coupled architectures. You can pick the best tools for each job and link them together via APIs enabling you to offer a better service, efficiently expand capabilities, and innovate on new channels using real data.
Does it work?
Simply, yes! It’s wonderful finding out even this week that one of our retail clients is enjoying 30% year on year increases in sales, while another has opened up a whole new customer segment and has achieved zero customer complaints on a new product launch.