Can the ‘Amazon effect’ be a force for good?

In a time where ecommerce has never been more important, Chris Carter, Group CEO of retail marketing agency smp and Amazon ecommerce specialist Melody, explains how retailers can benefit from following Amazon’s lead with the ‘Amazon effect’.

 

 

Big tech has come under fire recently – suffering a ‘techlash’ for issues around privacy, anti-trust and regulation.

Amazon, meanwhile, has long faced complaints about the ‘Amazon Effect’ – and yes, it is a massive disruptor to both physical and online retail. But we should know by now that disruption is not always a bad thing.

While the ecommerce giant may put additional pressure on retailers, it has regularly driven positive change: more efficient pricing and home delivery, enhanced retail experiences and forcing brands to better understand their customers.

The sector might actually want to start taking the positives from Amazon. It’s continually creating new offerings that are aligned with where trend forecasters see retail heading – and perhaps the rest of the industry could benefit from doing the same.

New inspirations

To begin with, retailers can learn how to reduce friction points by using Amazon-style personalisation tools to create a better customer experience, with recommendations and curated content.

Amazon uses two platforms, Amazon Follow and Amazon Posts, to inspire and provide information for shoppers to stay up to date with people, brands and interests they care about. It collaborated with Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty brand for New York Fashion Week and introduced Amazon Live in 2019, demonstrating the opportunity for livestreaming ecommerce.

If ecommerce brands can provide consumers with personalised, real-time updates on their favourite products and reviews, it can shortcut the journey from discovery to purchase whilst also promoting brand loyalty. The more services offered in one place will reduce the need for consumers to switch channels.

Creating engaging and sticky platforms is key to winning the ‘attention economy’. It is no longer enough to focus on purchase: retailers need to create relevant experiences for consumers from discovery through to purchase.

Wider services

The ecommerce giant is not only known for selling products but for services like Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music and Amazon Fresh. Other retailers could start thinking about pushing boundaries in a similar way and integrating more services into customers’ daily lives, thereby creating their own ecosystem.

Amazon doesn’t limit itself: it’s using its ecommerce expertise to disrupt both online and in-store platforms. It not only has leveraged a distributed department store strategy across Seattle – but also piloted a new healthcare initiative in Amazon Care, with everything from STI testing to prescription deliveries.

As a starting point, retailers could start focusing on how they can improve existing services and leverage new ones.

For example, Amazon engineers are working on a card-free, phone-free biometric system, Orville, that will essentially let shoppers at Whole Foods settle their bills with a wave of the hand.

Similarly, other brands could look at new ways to create an ultrafast and frictionless ecommerce and in-store purchasing experience. What’s more, they can even leverage Amazon’s own Just Walk Out technology to achieve it.

They can move away from their focus on just selling a product, and onto providing consumers with a solution that’ll make their whole purchase experience better.

Added value

Amazon is revolutionising both the online and in-store retail experience and encouraging retailers to up their own game. The goal is to provide consumers with meaningful options that will reward their loyalty.

It continues to add value to not only its current services but to new offerings – which is a key takeout to retailers and brands. For example, Amazon Prime started with providing Prime customers with free one day delivery and then progressed to music videos, kindle books, Prime Day events and even Premier League coverage in 2019.

Understanding what consumers want in this technology-driven world helps create an all-rounded positive shopping experience. E.g. people want fast delivery, fast streaming platforms and discounts on products they love. So, look at ways to create a service or system that will meet those expectations.

Learning lessons

Of course, most brands don’t have Amazon’s scale and resources. But they don’t have to.

Voice payments, AI, AR and VR, to name a few, are becoming the foundation of innovative retail experiences. Amazon has shown how it’s using new systems and solutions to reduce the burden of everyday life and reduce the friction of shopping – even offering these solutions to other retailers.

The list of services goes on, but most importantly these solutions are created because Amazon has consumers at the forefront of everything they do. It’s aiming to make lives easier.

Rather than being threatened by Amazon’s capabilities, or seeing them as an unrealistic benchmark, why not take a leaf from its book and make the most of the ‘Amazon effect’?

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