4 Tips to Beat Amazon’s Price Advantage

Ecommerce giant Amazon has put the pressure on every in-store retailer. It’s hard for many brick and mortar stores to compete with Amazon’s convenience and price advantage, but they need to learn that the secret to beating Amazon is surprisingly simple – customer experience.

Across all retail markets, personalized and exceptional service tops the list of loyalty drivers among customers. In this area, Amazon continues to fall short. With these four simple strategies, retailers can attack ecommerce’s Achilles heel and keep customers returning to their stores.

Blend the Best of In-Store and Online

It is easy to view in-store and online purchasing as separate actions, but you must avoid creating these siloes.  Brick and mortar stores can bridge the gap between in-store and online, providing the customer with the best of both worlds. Master the touch and feel factor by strategically placing the product in the customer’s hand while simultaneously displaying online consumer reviews and product ratings. This hands-on experience appeases doubts about advertising propaganda pitfalls that come with sight unseen, online-only shopping. Displaying online reviews provides a third-party validation that consumers crave.

Retailers should also simplify the purchasing process whenever possible. Same-day delivery, easy returns and on-site personal shopping assistance are all ways that stores can leverage that all-important need among customers for simplicity. The customer is already in your store – ensure their experience compels them to purchase from you!

Leverage Showrooming Behavior

Smart retail strategists are maximizing their physical store presence to their advantage. From lighting and layout to product demos and training, companies like Best Buy, Verizon and Apple are providing in-store experiences that encourage customers to linger and peruse aisles of eye-catching displays.

As consumers, we make decisions based on what is fun and easy. A 20 percent increase in decision simplicity results in a 96 percent increase in customer loyalty. The more retailers make the showroom enjoyable and accessible, the more likely the customer will purchase on-site.

Prioritize Service above Sales

It’s a simple equation really: expertise plus service equals value. Online shoppers rely on peer reviews and ratings. And more often than not, in-store shoppers have already done their homework. Train your team so that they can provide advice to the customer on the showroom floor that goes above and beyond simple star reviews.

Arm your sales staff with technology to help customers with buying decisions. That means ready access to social media and online reviews. Use social media to engage your customer and drive sales – 27 percent of consumers were “delighted” with a public response to their social feedback. When your team members exude passion for the products you carry, customers will respond.

Socialize Shopping

Social intelligence can help answer key questions such as “why did a customer leave and not buy anything?”  Was it bad service, selection or store layout? Leverage customer feedback that is readily and publically available on social channels. Use these insights to improve your customer experience.

Especially in the ecommerce age, social intelligence has become central in any successful retailer’s toolkit to compete and thrive. Whether it’s improving marketing, customer service, strategy, sales, inventory, pricing or any number of core retail activities, social intelligence could be crucial to increased sales.

Customer Experience is Key

2014 is the year of customer experience, which means our buyers and how we interact with them will remain at the heart of success. Brick and mortar businesses will thrive as they work to understand and engage with customers and make their shopping experience simple and enjoyable. Use these four strategies to strengthen the customer experience and beat the Amazon threat.

Kristin Muhlner is CEO of newBrandAnalytics.

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