July 16, 2018 | By

Staying Prime-Time in an Amazon World

Amazon Prime Day starts today and it’s all many people are talking about.  Amazon has made these annual events so successful that last year they had more sales on Prime Day than any other single day prior and most are confident that this year will be no different.  Consumers get excited about the great deals at discount prices while small businesses grow more and more apprehensive.  So how are companies not run by Jeff Bezos supposed to compete in a “Prime” world?

Well let’s break down why Amazon is so successful.  Among its many attributes, Amazon has seemingly unlimited capital, global distribution capabilities, a million partners, and because of its size and scale can offer low prices and fast, convenient shipping and return options.   Even as someone who prides themselves on shopping local, as a customer these benefits are hard to beat.  And for companies trying to compete with Amazon it can feel like an uphill battle.  Instead of focusing on the areas Amazon is good at, the opportunity for smaller companies comes in differentiating themselves in other areas.  Where you may not be able to compete on price, you may be able to convert customers through creating a highly-personalized customer experience.

Recent reports from PwC and others reveal over and over that today’s consumer is willing to pay more for a better experience.   And this is where Amazon falters a bit.  When Amazon does everything it promises, they are admittedly hard to beat.  But for those that need support or want to chat with Amazon agents, it’s not the easiest process.  After searching (and searching) customers can email customer support and even when they are quick at responding – most of us don’t want to wait hours or days for a resolution. This tactic of deflecting customer queries is quickly going out of style.  Today’s customers want seamless, 24/7 customer service as part of their digital lives and more than 80 percent of customers have stopped doing business with a brand following a negative experience.  In addition, like most online retailers, Amazon pushes customers to shop on their properties (website or app), but modern retailers are also differentiating themselves by allowing customers to shop where they are already spending time (think: Facebook or Google) which allows these retailers to cast a wider net and acquire customers in a variety of different ways.  These new models allow companies — no matter their size — to have one-off customer conversations across a variety of channels at a global scale.

It’s no secret that consumers want access to a range of quality products online, fair prices, and fast delivery – all which Amazon is able to deliver with its eyes closed. Exceptional customer experience, however, can give smaller companies the best chance of challenging Amazon.

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