There’s no denying it—Amazon is the big kid on the retail block. They push the envelope for what’s possible and expected of retailers. The effects Amazon has had on the retail industry are deep; creating industry-wide shifts in the wake of their innovations. Two-day shipping turned into same-day shipping and now in-store shoppers don’t even have to wait in line to checkout thanks to Amazon Go. The need for innovation doesn’t discriminate; iconic retailers like Macy’s and new e-tailers like Wayfair all have to find unique ways to compete with Amazon.

Amazon Go

In this post, we outline a few key ways that retailers can step their customer experience game up to keep their customers happy, engaged, and loyal.

Turn customer-centricity into action

If Amazon is known for nothing else, it’s their die-hard focus on the customer. They always put the customer first, and customers are well aware of that fact. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is famous for leaving an empty chair in every room to remind employees that customers are the most important person in the room. Amazon is not messing around.

Retailers hoping to stay relevant and competitive need to ruthlessly incorporate the customer into their decisions. This requires changing customer-centricity from a theoretical discussion into an action. The only way to get your team to take action on customer-centricity is to make sure they have access to information that allows them to make informed decisions, not guesses.

This list of sources to get information on the customer is long, and includes customer surveys, ratings and reviews, past purchasing behavior, favorited items, etc. But to make the best decisions, your team should have explicit data that has come directly from customers’ mouths (surveys, ratings and reviews, etc.) as well as from implicit data (favorited items, past purchasing behavior, etc.).

The point is, your team needs data points in order to make customer-centric decisions. Guessing what the customer wants and acting on it is not customer-centric behavior. Guessing does a disservice to both your team and your customers by wasting everyone’s time prioritizing the wrong tasks and increasing the potential for a disjointed customer experience.

An example of a company that turned customer-centricity into action comes from one of our customers, a coffee giant loved by all of New England. They ran a mobile survey to ask their customers which app features they want most. The company used the results to prioritize their product roadmap based on their customers’ preferences. By validating and prioritizing their product roadmap using customer-data, the company put its customers first, ensured their app will be loved, and fueled customer loyalty by involving them in the development process. They could’ve guessed what their customers wanted and risked building features no one uses. Instead, they put the customer first. Without the tools to gather customer insights, their team would’ve struggled to put customer-centricity into action.

Identify your fans

Another way companies can turn customer-centricity into action is by identifying and activating their fans. Amazon has figured out how to identify who their fans are—Prime members and Echo owners—and they also know that their fans spend more than the average customer. On average, Echo owners spend $1,700 a year on Amazon and Prime members spend $1,300 a year. That’s compared to the $1,000 spent on average by Amazon customers who aren’t “fans.”

Your fans are the customers you can test new features on, collect feedback, and iterate on the product before releasing to everyone. We make it easy to identify your fans with our Love Dialog, which boasts a 91% response rate.

Apptentive's Love Dialog

Once you know who your fans are, you can collect invaluable feedback on specific moments in their customer journey using micro-Surveys, send them reminders to use their soon-to-expire coupons with Notes, and more. Your fans are your most valuable customers, so knowing who they are is key. From there, you can ensure they know you care about them as a customer, keep them invested in your brand, and create innovative new offerings that will make their experience even better.

Make shopping ultra-convenient and easy

Amazon is on the forefront of making shopping a little too easy. From instant checkout to the new cashier-less Amazon Go store, Amazon Prime to Dash Buttons, they’ve changed the meaning of convenient shopping. Thanks to Amazon, free shipping and two-day shipping are expected. Soon, anything less than same-day shipping will cause consumers to grumble. Retailers need to recognize that convenience has become a commodity; its moved from ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘need-to-have.’ There are several ways to make shopping more convenient for your customers.

Amazon Dash Buttons

Implementing mobile payment options are a must for retailers trying to compete with Amazon. Mobile payments streamline the checkout process by removing the need to pull out credit cards, loyalty cards, coupons, etc. Kohl’s has created a robust mobile payment feature that allows customers to scan once to pay, activate their discounts, and earn loyalty points.

Kohl's Mobile Wallet

Nordstrom doesn’t have their own mobile wallet like Kohl’s, but they have implemented fingerprint checkout in their app. The ability to save your payment information and scan your fingerprint to buy your items is ultra-convenient—and maybe a little dangerous for those of us who like to shop too much. Whether it’s your own payment processor or Apple Pay, consumers should be able to quickly and easily checkout.

Retailers can also improve their customer experience by creating an omni-channel shopping bag. One endless source of frustration is trying to shop while switching devices. Losing your shopping cart when you go from your mobile device to your laptop is enough to give up purchasing all together. Give consumers the freedom to switch devices without having to shop twice to decrease the likelihood of an abandoned shopping cart. Unsurprisingly, Amazon is very good at this. No matter which device you’re shopping on, if you’re logged into your Amazon account, your shopping cart won’t change. They even send reminder emails if you leave items in your cart for a prolonged period of time.

Wrapping up

Amazon is quickly changing the way people shop. All retailers—storied or startup, brick-and-mortar or e-commerce—have to keep up to survive. The good news is that there are ways to Amazon-proof your brand. It all starts with putting the customer first.

Turn customer-centricity from that thing you need to do into clear, data-backed action items. Use tools like in-app surveys, ratings and reviews, and other listening mechanisms to gather explicit customer data. Combine that data with the implicit data your company is already collecting on customers to create a holistic picture of your customers’ profile.

Also focus on optimizing your customers’ shopping journey to make it as convenient, quick, and easy as possible. Amazon reigns supreme when it comes to continuously looking for ways to make shopping easier. What will your team come up with next to out-best Amazon?

Have questions or suggestions? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!