- Amazon became something of a retail cornerstone during 2020, and many brands become reliant on it – overly so.
- Consumer habits created during the pandemic are here to stay, so it will become vital to understand how to make Amazon work for brands, rather than trying to fit brands into Amazon.
- Amazon has become an experience platform in its own right, and the best brands will treat it as such.
Of the few winners to emerge from a torrid 2020, Amazon has to be up there – in the face of closed shop doors, Jeff Bezos’ baby has been the default retailer of choice for consumers driven online.
For the first time ever, it’s projected to have exceeded a whopping $100bn in quarterly revenue in Q4, spurred on by brands using it as their ecommerce lifeline. But there’s a catch.
As 2021 unfolds, some are finding themselves increasingly, perhaps overly, reliant on the giant as a sales avenue. As the retail ecosystem begins to regain some balance, the role Amazon plays in brands’ sales strategies will have to be recalibrated.
Brands will be left to consider how they make the most of a platform they may have previously considered ‘just’ an add-on, and build it into a wider 360-degree experience strategy. Here’s why.
First, the stats prove just how much shopping habits have been redefined by the pandemic
According to Kantar, 33% of people will continue to permanently shop online – this rises to 40% for the sustainability conscious shopper, and 45% for households with children. Customers are now also four times more likely to visit a marketplace like Amazon than a retailer’s own app or website, according to a 2020 Q3 survey from Adobe.
Against this backdrop, Amazon is clearly no longer an add-on to the customer journey. Ecommerce is here to stay and already carving out a bigger piece of the sales pie, which is precisely why the likes of Amazon are best viewed as part of a wider strategy, used to seamlessly incorporate the entire digital toolbox: social, retailer websites, apps, influencers – anything and everything.
Yet despite Amazon’s importance to the sales funnel, it’s often misunderstood. After all, it’s tough to stay on top of everything from paid and unpaid advertising options to keyword research optimization, creative content elevation, pay-per-click strategies and more.
For example, the now-free Amazon A+ content listings tool boosts cross-sell, traffic and sales opportunities by three to ten percent – that’s readily available with tangible benefits, and clearly something brands should understand and use.
Amazon is an experience platform in its own right. Treat it as such
To put this business-critical issue in context, the average online shopper purchased eleven items from an online marketplace like Amazon between March and June 2020, and just three from a-n-other online retailer.
This suggests the world’s largest ecommerce business has become an experience platform in its own right – during every step of the purchase journey, from research to that final ‘but now’, Amazon has it covered. It’s become the touchpoint for searching, shopping and sharing.
So where should it sit in a holistic retail strategy? Does it need its own sales strategy? Is it feeding back into other retail assets, or are the retail assets feeding into Amazon?
In reality, it’s a little bit of everything. Staying competitive means understanding why people buy from Amazon and knowing who your customers are – data from transactions, sentiment surveys and employee feedback can all help to create a seamless experience for customers.
Without doubt, Amazon should receive the same careful treatment as a store or owned website, and therefore have its own strategy like any other channel. And that Amazon strategy must also sit within a broader brand plan that seamlessly connects a brand’s entire suite of assets.
The success of a brand’s post-COVID Amazon strategy hinges on this
As the shopper journey continues to evolve at warp speed, customers are browsing and shopping anywhere at any time, via what can seem like a limitless number of channels – old or new.
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and even TikTok, the newest kid on the block, are now shoppable channels. While Amazon might be the biggest channel currently, it is part of a wider ecosystem, one in which the single constant for success is a shopper-first mentality.
As with bricks and mortar, the first rule is simply to know your customer – their needs and wants, why they shop where they do. Then take that knowledge to start building an effective customer experience. Supplement what you know by maximizing your data – be that transactional, reviews, employee feedback – so you have a bank of behavioral insights.
From there, deploy the three-step approach to keeping the customers you hook in with content, advertisement and fulfillment.
That being, take advantage of Amazon’s Brand Registry program, which gives you the chance to roll out nifty FAQs, hi-def videos and more on your pages; mix up the formatting of the ads you service on Amazon Advertising, given 62% of UK shoppers bought products after seeing them advertised on the site; and ensure fulfillment is as streamlined as can be, with the option of free shipping available when fulfillment is handled through Amazon’s FBA program.
And as much as it’s become a dirty word of late: be innovative.
Brands that adopt a test-and-learn approach to improving the customer experience and thinking shopper-first will learn more about what their customers want, sure. But they’ll also be best-placed for success in a retail environment that’s undergoing seismic change.
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