Retailer Web Services Digital Advisor Fall 2017 - Page 9

Teams with Cloth & Company, Apartment Therapy,” implies it could be done much faster. • Product reviews: The large selection of product reviews Amazon curates and provides is a significant reason many buy from Amazon. In comparison, there are few product reviews elsewhere in the furniture industry. Regarding mattresses, many manufacturers have worked diligently to gather reviews, but the private labeling practice makes it exceptionally difficult to syndicate those reviews across large groups of independent retailers. The major appliance industry is further along with product reviews and should continue to gather and widely distribute them to its independent retailers as a top priority. While many retailers worry Amazon will win by offering a lower price, the real worry, according to Gilbert, should be that Amazon will win by offering a better customer experience. A recent consumer insights story, “How Walgreens Is Building for the Future of Customer Experiences,” explains how consumer expectations are growing exponentially. To win, retailers need to provide the best total customer experience—online, offline, everywhere! During a recent RetailWire Brain Trust discussion, panelists weighed in on the following question: Does Costco need to significantly undercut Amazon’s prices? As evidenced in the forum, Costco is, indeed, charging much less for items, but Amazon Pantry is still winning. Why? For today’s consumer, it’s not about price. It’s about convenience and overall experience. So, how can independent retailers prepare for the inevitability of Amazon? Consider these six tips: 1. MANAGE YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION. When more choices are available to your potential customers, excellent online reviews will be a powerful reason why they should choose to shop with you and not your competitors. 2. MAKE SURE YOUR WEB PRESENCE IS SUPER EASY TO USE. Here’s how: a. Ensure full text searches return accurate results, even for lay language like “stove” (instead of range) and “couch” (instead of sofa). b. Make sure it’s fast! Use Google’s new tool to test your speed on desktop and mobile at developers. insights. c. Your site must contain a lot of product information so your prospects can research on their own terms. Your potential customer will likely launch a local search first when shopping for furniture, an appliance or a mattress. d. Focus on knowing what’s important to your customers before they ask. For example, when someone’s refrigerator breaks, they need a new one—yesterday! What’s important to that consumer is how long it will take for delivery. So, make sure the refrigerators you have available for immediate delivery are prominently labeled as such on your site. 3. BE RESPONSIVE. Customers don’t only call or come in the store to contact you. They email, text, private message on Facebook and tweet. Make sure you have someone listening and responding quickly! A variety of software is available to help you with this, and if nothing else, use the free tool at to notify you when your business is being discussed online. 4. STAY TOP OF MIND. Figure out who your potential customers are via de-anonymization as soon as possible and remarket to them with intelligent content based on what they’ve already viewed online. Don’t let them forget about you while they are considering their purchase. 5. FOCUS ON AMAZING LOCAL DELIVERY. Make it your goal to get this process as fast, smooth and wonderful as possible. How can you make home delivery of your products an amazing experience that’s hard to match? Here are a few suggestions: a. Provide in-house training on new appliances or send a chef to cook for customers in their new kitchen. b. When dropping off a new mattress, have your delivery team help make the bed with new linens as a gift. c. Deliver new living room furniture with a beautiful vase of flowers. d. Have your delivery team offer to pose for selfies with your customers for fun social media posts about their cool new items. 6. LOOK FOR WAYS TO REDUCE CONSUMERS’ RISK. If you can make buying from you safe via easy returns, try-before-you-buy policies, satisfaction guarantees, long-term service contracts and the like, you can win in this retail arena where consumers don’t buy these products frequently enough to feel like an expert and the purchases represent a large portion of their discretionary income. Above all, don’t forget what RWS research has shown: Your potential customer will likely launch a local search first when shopping for furniture, an appliance or a mattress. Once a potential customer clicks on your website, they’re stepping through the front door of your digital storefront. The impressions they get are both strong and instantaneous— and can be the deciding factor on whether they decide to visit Amazon. 9