With unrivaled information about where its customers live, what they purchase, and what they view online, Amazon’s quest seems to be less about dominating online retail and more about owning it altogether.
This makes the online marketplace a formidable opponent for any retail brand, but it’s a challenge best addressed by focusing on how to better serve and anticipate the needs of your shoppers, rather than focusing on how to compete with Amazon. If a retailer is able to better understand how to deliver value to consumers, the future of its business does not have to be determined by Amazon’s movements.
Our research shows that millennials care about price, convenience, and a retailer’s ability to cater to their individual perceptions of value. They frequently shop with a clear idea of what they want and a drive to purchase, and they expect detailed and accurate product information, balanced reviews, and third-party endorsements, along with a frictionless path to purchase.
But they also shop for inspiration and enjoy the discovery of new products, often aided by the likes of social media channels and peer recommendations. Amazon has developed a compelling transactional platform that caters to those shopping with intent, but it doesn’t offer every retail experience a millennial is looking for. Herein lies the opportunity for retailers to surprise, delight, and inspire, and to make online retail as much about the enjoyment of product discovery as it is about fast fulfillment.
For some organisations, selling via Amazon makes complete sense, and choosing whether to collaborate or compete with Amazon does not have to be a binary decision. Working with the platform can help retailers to grow their reach, rack up valuable reviews, and test appetite for different products and price points. Collaboration can enable a retailer to reach a broader demographic of shoppers, better manage brand reputation, and maintain ownership of listings.
But by handing the reins over to Amazon, retailers have to be comfortable with a loss of control – from margins, to customer data and ownership of the transaction. Giving millennials a clear reason to shop with them directly, on their own demain, is the only way for retailers to truly ‘own’ these consumers and the data that comes with every interaction.
As our findings show, however, many retailers are still failing at the basics when it comes to their own domains – from site speed and performance, to product information management (PIM). By using approaches such as Heuristics Evaluation and customer journey mapping to continually improve their digital products, prioritise digital initiatives based on the value they will create, and ensure their domains continue to address consumer needs and expectations, online retailers can deliver services that make the online shopping experience seamless, memorable, and enjoyable.
And it’s this mentality that makes the difference between an Etsy and an Amazon Homemade.