Rivals need to up customer experiences to compete with Amazon
In the wake of Amazon’s stellar holiday season, including word that Prime added three million more subscribers in the third week of December and that $0.51 of every new e-commerce dollar spent in 2015 went to Amazon, it looks like competitors really have reason to worry. Sure, Fire Phone was a flop, they don’t get everything right, and some innovations are reaches, but overall, Amazon executes effectively on its core business, meeting consumer expectations and outperforming major competitors.
Merchants looking to narrow the Amazon gap need to accelerate innovation, technology and enhanced messaging. But first, executing dependably on stellar customer experience is now, more than ever, mandatory. To illustrate the point, here are samples of retail failings and needed focal points from this author’s December shopping experiences.
Macys: Very good online experience but multiple physical visits revealed stores were understaffed, over-packed, merchandise often jumbled, and the highly touted endless-aisle kiosks were universally ignored.
Message to merchant: Quantity (real and virtual) is not as important as product accessibility, availability, and consideration of the shopper’s time.
Swanson Vitamins: After e-mailing them about a missed promotion, one customer service rep, then another, each took a day to respond, each time with erroneous savings codes that failed in their cart, pushing me to competitors.
Message to merchant: Corporate promises, marketing, and PR are irrelevant to customers when actions don’t support the hype.
Lord & Taylor: A slow, somewhat tedious website with a burdensome shopping cart. It was improved over 2013’s shopping attempt, which ended with a catastrophic cart crash.
Message to merchant: User experience is crucial at every consumer touch point, especially for websites where the dominant competitor is a click away.
J.C. Penney: A reasonably good e-commerce experience except when they mishandled a BOPIS out-of-stock and cancelled the order without offering alternatives.
Message to merchant: More than a means to order products, omnichannel must incorporate effective fulfillment and meaningful problem resolution.
While these issues and remedies aren’t unheard of, innumerable retailers are still mired at this level, not seeing the forest for the trees, eschewing logic and business sense. Given Amazon’s prowess, is there a plausible explanation as to why competitors are not taking every possible action to save themselves and their customers before being annihilated?
- It’s Amazon and Also-Rans in Retailers’ Race for Online Sales – The New York Times (tiered sub.)
- Amazon is Dominating the Entire Retail Industry – The Motley Fool
Do you agree that Amazon’s rivals are challenged when it comes to delivering the customer experiences that today’s consumers demand? Of Amazon’s strengths, which are toughest for rivals to match?