Remember when Amazon only sold books? Now people build their entire business just on selling things through the Amazon Store. And Amazon Prime is Amazon-ing! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!). I buy everything through Amazon. Electronics. Clothes. Office supplies. They have even started building retail stores in some markets for books (of course) and food. Apparently retail is alive…for Amazon.
One of my local grocery stores is going out of business. An electronics retailer is also closing it’s doors forever. On June 16 Amazon announced it is buying Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion! Traditional retailers are closing stores while Amazon is growing and opening more. How is this possible? Retail is still alive is you know how to do it. Amazon has the secret sauce to retail success. Here’s how they do it:
- Customer First – Think of how you can make life easier for the customer and do it. One reason people buy from Amazon is they make purchasing easy. I can buy from my phone, computer or tablet. They even developed devices like the Echo and Echo Dot that make voice purchases easier for customers. They track how often you purchase printer ink and suggest when you may want to purchase more. Retail is alive for Amazon because they put the customer first.
- Experience – Walt Disney World cast members are experts at separating me from my money. They create a consistent and fun experience for their guests no matter where they are (e.g. – parks, cruise ships, retail stores, etc). Some Kroger stores have live music for people to enjoy during lunch or while they shop. They even have a sushi bar, and my daughter loves sushi. The Amazon online experience is heightened by plenty of pictures, videos and product reviews. Now they are creating that same experience in brick
- Mobile Strategy – There are more mobile devices than people on the planet. WOW! Retail stores need to establish a mobile technology strategy; failing retailers don’t have one. Apple let’s customers come in to the store, purchase items and walk out without talking to employees. Develop an app for tracking purchase analytics. Let customers use their iPhone to gain product information in the store. And in store wifi is a must. Don’t know what to do? We’d love to help!
- Social Strategy – If Facebook were a country, it would be the largest on the planet. Develop a social media strategy that includes objectives, platform selection and analytics. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can be effective for building engagement and relationships. When customers send a tweet, respond. Post coupons through Instagram and Snapchat. Nordstrom and Macy’s do social well, with the prior having a 17 second response time. Retail is alive because some brands embrace social.
- Forget the Data – As an engineer, I love data and numbers. However, for retail to survive, owners need to look at the customer and watch what is moving off the shelf. Look at the trends in their stores and take risks on merchandise. React to the needs and wants of your customer to design a better experience. I’ve never sold anything just sitting in front of a computer screen analyzing numbers. Retail is alive for Home Depot and Ulta because sometimes they forget the data.
Amazon isn’t killing the retail industry. Lack of innovation and vision are hurting the retail industry. Not everyone is suffering. Retail is alive for businesses and brands with a vision and the courage to embrace it are moving on. Let’s see who will stick around and who will become the next Blockbuster.
Scientifically Speaking, of course…