So being the over thinker that I am, it might go without saying that Amazon Prime is pretty much my best friend. That two-day shipping has gotten me out more jams than I can count and has made my loyalty so strong that if something isn’t available on Prime, I act like it’s not available anywhere, ever, at all.
Just tonight, I was planning on shipping something overnight (can’t beat that $3.99!) when I realized it wasn't Prime eligible. Gasp! I’m not exaggerating when I say that for a good five minutes, I was at a loss for what I was going to do. I considered alternate products. I questioned whether I really needed the item at all. Finally, I did a quick Internet search found it in stock at a nearby store. I was happy to locate it but dismayed that it required the First World Problem of having to drive to the store instead of paying an extra $4 bucks to have it brought to me.
So when did going to get something in person become my second (or fourth?) choice for shopping? Why did my orders with Amazon jump from 2 in 2010 to 68 last year and 70 already this year? As you may have guessed, I’ve come to a few conclusions about why this particular online retailer has stolen my consumer heart:
Dependability - The free two-day shipping helps — oh, Lord, does it help — but if everything else about Amazon was terrible, it wouldn’t be one step away from joining Google as a verb in my vernacular. I don’t know what the magical Amazon elves (or drones) do to have such efficiency, but when you place your order, you know you will get the correct items, and they won't be damaged, and won’t have to check daily to see if it has shipped. Before most companies even have your order processed, Amazon's familiar smile is already at your door.
Exceptional Service – Even with all of Amazon’s dependability, mistakes happen. It's only natural for a company that big. Each of the few times they've made an error, their response has exceeded my expectations. The only time I was even remotely ticked off was when they refunded a friend who bought us a baby gate from our baby registry instead of refunding me when I tried to exchange it. (Who knew you should measure an area before picking such an item out?) After I explained the awkward faux pas, Amazon refunded me as well, so I was able to buy a new baby gate, and everyone ended up happy — especially my friend who ended up paying $0 for the much-appreciated gift. With Amazon, you always know the outcome to a problem will result in your favor. On more than one occasion, I didn't even have to return items I was displeased with to get my refund. Who does that? Amazon, that's who.
Innovation – Amazon brings new meaning to one-stop-shop. It’s almost hard to remember when they were solely a book retailer. They are built on forward thinking and transformation. They survived the dot-com implosion and moved into selling other consumer goods. Then they opened up their platform to third-party sellers and aggregated other retailers (essentially their competitors) under one roof. They disrupted the entire publishing industry with the launch of their e-reader, Kindle. And now between Amazon Prime, Amazon Pantry, AmazonFresh, Zappos, Audible, Soap.com, Diapers.com, Casa.com, Yoyo.com, — you get the picture — they have their hand in everything. They've even created buttons to make it easier for you to buy from them — and they're selling them for $4.99 a pop. Insane.
Amazon, in its many forms, has made my life easier, so they are automatically my first choice every time I need to make a purchase. They saw the changing landscape and the opportunity it brought with it and evolved the services they offer to customers to reach even more.
There's no doubt the promotional products industry is in the midst of a sea change. Your customers have the ability to buy the same products you sell from anyone, anywhere, at any time. Why should they choose you? What can you do to differentiate? In the words of Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos: "You have to ask what your customers need and want, and then, no matter how hard it is, you better get good at those things."
How can you implement the Amazon approach and be indispensable, innovative, and always deliver with a smile?