How To Compete With The Mighty Amazon

Like its namesake, the Amazon River, the company Amazon is a modern day giant. The Amazon River is considered to be the longest river in the world, at 6400km. Amazon (the company) is now one of the largest companies by turnover and as we well know coming to our shores very soon.

Amazon is well renowned for its customer-first approach and that makes them tough to compete with. Here are three ways that Amazon focuses (and even obsessed) on their customers:

  • Every manager including the CEO spends two days every two years taking calls in the customer service centre. This sends a powerful message to the frontline team that senior management takes customer service seriously.
  • They have a laser-focused customer centric leader running the business. Jeff Bezos is well known as a customer-obsessed leader. During early board meetings, Bezos would leave a chair empty, asking his fellow board members to assume that it belonged to the most crucial member of the company – the customer. He encourages his employees to take all decisions with the customer in mind.
  • Amazon innovates with the customer in mind. From the development of the Kindle to drone deliveries, all of Amazon’s innovations are aimed at adding value to the customer.

I believe these three things are a huge factor in their success. When a business focuses on what the customer wants and delivers on that focus, they have success. Uber is another great example of this as they focus on what the existing Taxi companies were not doing or not good at. And their astronomical growth is a result of this.

Amazon will not kick off without getting a lot of things right as they have a big opportunity to make a great first impression, so I’m sure they want to get this right. So do we all just give up and close our doors – I don’t think so. Here’s my view on how to successfully compete with a giant.

  • Be really, really good at what you do. If your business is sports equipment and clothing, you have to own this category. Having the right products that customers want to purchase that are on trend etc. Products that are well displayed and best of all in stock.
  • Products that a customer can research online and/or in-store or however they want to do it. Can they find out easily if the product they want is in stock at a particular store. Nothing will drive them online quicker if they come to your store because it said you had stock and you don’t.
  • And the biggest piece from my biased point of view – the right staff who are knowledgeable and passionate about the product and customers. I believe this is where you can make the biggest impact. When a customer makes the effort to come into your store the experience has to be outstanding – not just once but every time. Online can’t compete with a passionate sales person who listens to understand the customer’s needs, provides solutions (often including additional products that the customer hasn’t even thought of) and smiles while doing this.

Your store(s) have to offer the best service otherwise you are simply telling your customers to buy online. It’s not too late to invest in your people, as that is what will make the difference.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.