Competing against Amazon is a tall order any time of year, but especially during the crush of the all-important holiday season. Lauren Freedman, president of consultancy the e-tailing Group, offered the following seven tips for merchants to better compete against Amazon during a webinar last week to discuss the 2012 Mindset of a Multichannel Shopper survey.
Understanding your brand
Know what you stand for and how to use that to differentiate. Freedman said Uncommon Goods delivers a curated assortment instead of a “broad stroke everything you can sell” approach and serves as the editor for the shopper. “That has often been the role of many great retailers.”
Knowledge of your customer
Know the behavior or your customers anecdotally or through analytics. How do they shop? What level of information do they need? Do they want to be self service shoppers or catered to? Freedman said merchants need to know customers’ categories of interest, their sale versus full price purchasing habits, response rates to certain types of emails, if they come from social media sites, if they purchase via mobile, or are part of loyalty program.
What is the right assortment for your brand as not every consumer wants to weed through tens of thousands of products; how do you present that assortment via the best means whether it be through themes, branded destinations, or category-based. Lands’ End offers a select group of back-to-school and winter gear all grouped around common themes, Freedman said. “Fashion retailers may put forth their key brands like Nordstrom and a point-of-view that distinguishes them from other department stores.”
Do you have the right tactics for your products? For some companies that may mean how-to guides, for others it will be video. The basics from onsite search to easy to find product searching are a most. Today there are so many standards including upsells, cross sells and ratings/reviews. It is also important to connect channels more than ever so those elements should be in place as well.
Sophisticated marketing strategy
How will you drive traffic? How do you leverage natural search rankings? Use of social media and affiliates.
Some retailers have made a choice to also sell on Amazon so they are in effect competing with themselves, but leveraging their significant traffic. An understanding of that model relative to the business is essential.
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“This needs to be tested,” Freedman said. “See where business comes from. It’s like having your own store on Madison Avenue and selling at Bloomingdales, but instead of a quick walk it’s a click away with different rules. It’s also important to understand who owns the customer.”
Give the lady what she wants. Make accessible all preferred forms of contact from email to live chat. Deliver quickly. Self service tools should be on your site. Knowledgeable customer service representatives are a differentiator and should know your products. “This must be strong across the board as customers will contact you anywhere and anytime they like,” Freedman said.