Ken is correct that this is a marketing technique and I think it is brilliant.
Prior to this morning, I didn't know about Allbirds and now I not only know what they offer, but they have told me exactly why I shouldn't feel good about getting their product cheaper at Amazon.
The event is designed to remind shoppers of the value of local businesses in their community. It should also serve as a reminder to local retailers that their best weapon against the huge national and digital chains is the emotional connection that they have (or can create) with their customers. Algorithms and free shipping don't create an emotional connection.
I love this move by Shoptalk specifically because it is a little over the top. As they indicate in their explanation, they could have simply set a goal of 50/50 representation and "checked off the box" for gender equity, but instead they did something that really sends a message.
For those who see this announcement and think that it's crazy to have the show (or anything) dominated by just one gender, that just might be the feeling they are trying to get you to experience and understand -- it is crazy.
They say they are building a grocery store but, from a strategic standpoint, they probably see the locations as distribution or pick up locations that also allow customers to shop for themselves.
I imagine the layout will be designed for picking efficiency and ease of drive through pick up for groceries and other stuff bought on Amazon.com. Structurally, that might mean doing things like building the aisles and refrigerator/freezer coolers with space behind/between them, so pickers could source the product from behind the shelf, so they don't get in the way of shoppers.
I would also suggest they focus on the power of the Amazon ecosystem and integrate the new stores into that with benefits for customers that use Amazon for both e-commerce and grocery. Promotionally, that might mean not only savings for Prime members when they shop at the grocery store, but also savings off of their annual Prime membership fees for regular grocery shoppers. The goal would be to make Amazon the easy choice for just about everything.
The part that caught my eye was the early (Wednesday) access to Black Friday deals ONLY for Target Circle and RedCard members. That shows me that Target recognizes the power of their Target Circle loyalty program in helping them connect with their customers in a way that Walmart, which doesn't have a loyalty card, can't.
There's a lot of trade press about the power of Amazon's Prime membership and their ability to leverage detailed data on their customers, but Target's move into the loyalty game has not gotten as much visibility. This clever method of driving up enrollment in Target Circle will serve Target well going forward.
This technology won't eradicate counterfeiting, but it will go a long way toward reducing sales to the most profitable segment of the counterfeit customer base, those customers that genuinely believed they were getting the real, branded product.
The other segment which buys the item knowing the deal is "too good to be real" won't be affected.
Amazon recognizes that the biggest obstacle to growing online grocery shopping is overcoming inertia and gaining trial -- many shoppers are simply reluctant to even try online shopping. After the initial experience, online shopping gets easier and some customers become regular users.
This is crazy when evaluated from a profit perspective, but just might be brilliant if Amazon is able to gain consumer trial before their local, brick and mortar competitors (like Walmart) can.
Bill provides a great perspective on loyalty and the power of leveraging data. What I really like is he never loses sight of the goal being to serve the customer and improve the brand or retailer's relationship with the customer.
AI and machine learning can be powerful tools to personalize the experience for shoppers and make them feel known and understood. However too often, the technology is seen as a way to predict what customers will do, so we can manipulate them to serve our needs. That's when it can get creepy and turn customers off.
It is refreshing to see an article on AI that includes discussion of the impact on the customer. Bill reminds us that the long term goal of loyalty marketing is "to establish valuable, long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships that insulate the brand from competitive offers."
The only emotion retailers should be trying to create is the emotional connection customers feel with the retailer. You accomplish that by improving their experience and making them feel valued, not by triggering negative emotions.
It's hard to fault Amazon for taking $2 million for placement, but in the interest of transparency, I think they should identify the items as sponsored. Amazon currently enjoys being the #1 search site for products partially because they are a great starting point for research. If customers begin to believe that Amazon is creating "fake reviews" or prioritizing big companies, it could undermine their credibility.
Amazon's success has come from their unwavering focus on serving the customer and making it easy for the customer to find and get what they want. If they shift too aggressively toward manipulating customers to serve their own goals or those of their vendors and advertisers, it might damage the trust they have built.
The element of this that I really like is that Best Buy is tapping into Black Friday enthusiasm early, but their guarantee is only to match their own Black Friday pricing and only for rewards members.
Best Buy is in complete control of whether or not any of the items will qualify for a price match. More importantly, competitors can't really respond effectively. Even though Amazon is matching the prices, customers might as well buy at Best Buy just in case the price does go lower.
The advantage that Google has vs. Amazon is that Google is known for providing free services that make everything easier and/or less expensive. Customers understand that their use of Google for search, email, etc., helps Google make tons of money through advertising, but we as customers aren't the ones paying. We are simply getting a free service.
Amazon, on the other hand, is the world's largest online retailer and for most customers, they are the default go-to for online shopping or product evaluation. They make shopping easy and have great delivery options, but customers also know that Amazon makes money when we buy, so their features and functionality are all designed to get us to buy through the Amazon ecosystem.
I think the upgraded Google Shopping is a threat to Amazon because it has the potential to cast what they do in a different light and get customers to see them differently. Think of the contrasts that Google is creating vs Amazon.
Shop at any store, even if Google will not get a commission;
Shop your way. Online or local retailer, delivery or pick up;
Feel better about the environmental impact of shipping through carbon offsets.
I'm in general agreement with the sentiment behind the policy in the sense that I believe strongly that data privacy is not being respected and some companies are abusing the data through misuse. There are two areas where I would push back a bit.
Firstly, data itself is not a property, but I believe that "personal" data is. I don't think a customer should be able to require that their data be deleted entirely, but I do support a consumer's right to have their personal information disassociated from the data.
Secondly, I think it is a stretch to suggest that each customer be compensated (presumably in cash) for the economic value of their data. Instead of suggesting cash compensation, how about the policy require that before retaining personally identifiable data, the company collecting the data must "sell" the consumer on the value to them? That would force companies to focus more on the customer and how the data can be used to serve them. If the non-financial benefits are insufficient to get customers to share, then the website or retailer could add a financial incentive to drive sharing.
That puts the customer in control of their data, keeps the government out of the business of trying to quantify the value of data and hopefully encourages companies to focus more on using the data to serve their customers.
I agree Mohamed!
This is all about demonstrating what makes Zulily different and comparing their pricing to Amazon and Walmart is a powerful way to convince customers that they really do offer great deals.
For those suggesting that getting into a price battle with Amazon is a mistake, consider that Zulily selects the limited items they will offer and they only do that when they can get an awesome deal and they know they can win on price. Zulily isn't competing head-to-head with Amazon on what Amazon sells, they are saying that they can match or beat Amazon on everything that Zulily sells.
How many customers will at least check out a site that says it can beat Amazon? I'm betting it's enough to make this price match challenge pay off.