In 1995, when Amazon was a small Seattle-based e-commerce website, only 16 million people used the internet. Today, more than 3 billion people – or about 47 percent of the world’s population – have an internet connection.
The internet has radically changed consumer behavior, and over the past 22 years, Amazon has singularly transformed the way we shop, driving 60 percent of total U.S. online retail sales growth and capturing $100 billion in e-commerce sales.
What’s even more interesting is how Amazon is setting themselves apart from every other company by redefining the online experience. While most companies are primarily focused on leveraging data, Amazon teaches us all a lesson by shining their spotlight on the customer experience.
Redefining the online experience
“Buy now with 1-Click®” – four words that represent the simplicity and modern-day innovation that internet users no longer hope for, but expect.
Millennials are often credited with an “I want it now” mentality, but all generations have been transfixed by the simplistic, intuitive capabilities Amazon offers its customers. By eliminating inefficiency and streamlining the process, the click of a single button has redefined the online experience.
Beyond the novelty of its simplicity, Amazon has the capability to know what users will need before they know they need it and have taken personalized shopping to the next level. Praveen Kopalle, professor of marketing at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, dissects exactly why Amazon surpasses all e-commerce competitors, sharing:
“Amazon is wildly popular because it does three things very well: It provides the convenience of a nearly one-stop shopping experience from the comfort of your home; it remembers what you bought and when you bought it; and it recommends other products you might like, based on your shopping history. Along the way, Amazon collects troves of valuable data about its customers’ preferences and habits. It was revealed recently that Amazon.com has obtained a patent for what it calls “anticipatory shipping” — a system of delivering products to customers before they place an order. Amazon says it may box and ship products it expects customers in a specific area will want—based on previous orders and other factors… According to the patent, the packages could wait at the shippers’ hubs or on trucks until an order arrives.” If implemented well, this strategy has the potential to take predictive analytics to the next level, allowing the data-savvy company to greatly expand its base of loyal customers.”
But just when we thought “Buy now with 1-Click®,” was the pinnacle of convenience and innovation, Alexa found her way into our homes. As an intelligent personal assistant, Alexa is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, checking traffic and weather, and even ordering Amazon products through voice command.
Buy now with 1-Click® and Alexa aren’t the only back of tricks Amazon is keeping up their sleeve. Same-day delivery was announced in 2015, making sure that everything from groceries to a home theater system arrives at their customer’s doors faster than ever before.
Amazon’s breakthroughs year after year are all focused around their remarkable ability to better serve their customers rather than focus on their competitors, and in the process making one of their products a household name.
Quite a feat, but don’t think their competitors haven’t been taking notes.
The competition antes up
In August, Google and Walmart announced that they have partnered to rival Amazon in the voice activated shopping arena. Customers will now be able to access hundreds of thousands of products from Walmart’s shelves through the online retailing service Google Express. Previously, Walmart’s products were only available online through the company’s website.
Similar to Alexa, Walmart customers will be able to place an order using either the Google Assistant app or the voice-activated speaker Google Home. Existing Walmart customers can now link their Walmart and Google accounts in order to receive personalized shopping results based on both online and in-store purchases.
Though Amazon currently dominates this space and is on pace to control 70 percent of the market by the end of the year, the ongoing battle between the largest online realtor and the biggest brick-and-mortar retailer has been center stage for quite some time.
In 2017, Best Buy, Target and Walmart all announced that they’re expanding their own same-day delivery options, going head-to-head with Amazon Prime. This recent announcement from both companies further supports the idea that retailers are aggressively stepping up their online order business in order to appease the customers who can’t (or won’t) shake their “I want it now” mentality.
What are the takeaways?
The Amazon experience (or more appropriately coined, expectation) in our own personal lives is transcending into our professional lives and into our businesses. No matter what the product or service being offered, business leaders are expected to not only adjust to this new mentality, but cater to it.
I recently read that millennials will make up 35% of the workforce by 2020, and their first language is technology. So, the expectation of instant gratification, instant delivery and instant response isn’t going anywhere. At BOC, we employee a great group of hard-working millennials who remind us that the focus shouldn’t be on what our competitors are doing (though we’ve got an ear to the ground there too), but rather on what more we could be doing for our clients, focusing on the more immediate results that are solution-based and growth-driven.
The reality is that big data is changing how businesses operate and communicate with their customers. The availability of this data is bringing insights into customer behavior, preferences and issues that impact customer experience, and businesses are able to capitalize on and benefit from this information.
By leveraging big data, companies are able to build long-term relationships with clients because they know what they need and what they don’t; they’re able to anticipate what customers will ask for in advance helping them improve customer interactions, and identify customer pain and passion points more effectively.
Technology advancements and the customer experience are intrinsically tied together. By leveraging technology, you’re telling your customers that you care deeply about their experience.
Scott Woodward is the executive vice president of business solutions at Blue Ocean Consulting, providing business software consulting services and helping companies find the right technology solutions to meet strategic needs. How are you considering the customer experience in your business? Share your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.