E-commerce retailers need to step up efforts on the customer service and personalization fronts.
By Arthur Zaczkiewicz on July 13, 2018
As consumers ready themselves for big deals on Amazon Prime Day, technology vendors and consultants said there are tactics and strategies that e-commerce retailers can deploy to boost sales, which includes stepping up efforts to create a more personalized experience while offering improved customer service.
Using technology such as machine learnings and artificial intelligence can also give retailers and brands a competitive edge.
Pallab Chatterjee, chairman and chief executive officer of Symphony RetailAI, noted that Prime Day has taken on the “same shopping intensity as Black Friday. As a result of Amazon’s heavy marketing, the growth of its own private-label brands and the acquisition of Whole Foods, this year is anticipated to be bigger than ever.”
Chatterjee said the grocery industry has felt the impact of Amazon “as products typically found in the center store move to online and subscription models.” The CEO said to gain an advantage and perhaps compete against Amazon as well as Whole Foods, “grocers should use their own brands and online presence to launch their own promotions. To ensure that these promotions are effective, grocers need to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning — as these systems have the power to acknowledge, contextualize and react to every data point from all channels in real-time — in order to make prescriptive recommendations and optimize promotions that are relevant to consumers.”
Roland Gossage, CEO of GroupBy Inc., said that given the level of participation expected from consumers on Prime Day, “retailers who want to get in the game and convert the sale must ensure that every customer can easily find what they’re looking for, and that is done through product data.”
“Consumers today rely on an increasing amount of information when shopping for items online, so accurate and extensive details for products, including product reviews, is essential to increased product findability, more relevant search results and ultimately increased sales,” Gossage explained. “Retailers must have a product data enrichment strategy in place in order to improve product findability and relevancy, especially if they want to keep pace with Amazon on Prime Day. Additionally, retailers who sell larger and more expensive products during Amazon Prime Day will need to include enhanced product descriptions to remedy the issue of the lack of physical contact with these items during online purchases.”
Last year, analysts estimated Amazon’s Prime Day event generated $1 billion in sales — a 60 percent gain over the prior year. Casey Gannon, vice president of marketing at Shopgate, added that mobile app shoppers on Prime Day doubled from the prior year. And this year sales are expected to be just as robust — helped by the fact that the hours have been extended and there are more products on offer.
“Customer retention is something that Amazon has totally mastered, and small businesses or midmarket retail brands are trying to catch up,” Gannon said. “However, a key thing they must remember is that they’re not Amazon, and that’s not something to feel daunted by. If retailers can build a great brand with diverse products and exceptional customer service, customers will realize that truly not everything is available on Amazon. Retailers should think about their brand and how to market it — and, if they don’t have an app, think about what a mobile channel could do for them.”
Adrien Nussenbaum, cofounder and U.S. CEO of Mirakl, said while Prime Day will “mobilize shoppers and break Prime Day records for Amazon, there’s one group that won’t necessarily be a winner on July 16 and 17: third-party sellers.”
Nussenbaum explained that with various barriers Amazon implemented on sellers, “such as requiring them to use Fulfillment by Amazon, as well as Amazon’s early and significant discounts on its private brands, sellers might invest significantly in promotion, fulfillment and service products for little return.”
“On Prime Day, sellers should expect razor-thin margins thanks to the increase in other sellers trying to rapidly move inventory,” Nussenbaum said. “This will be exacerbated by Amazon’s announcement in June that they will penalize third-party sellers for storing inventory in Amazon warehouses for too long. Meanwhile, Amazon will come out on top by stepping on the backs of its third-party sellers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon rule with an iron fist and pay to further discount seller items like it did during the holidays in order to showcase significant growth.”
Nussenbaum said it was important to remember that Amazon’s shareholders “value growth and innovation, not profit margin, so [Amazon will] do what’s necessary to show exceptional growth on Prime Day.”
The Mirakl CEO said to “combat” Amazon’s approach and gain more visibility, “sellers should push to partner with online marketplaces run by retailers who put more value in their sellers. In doing so, sellers can become less reliant on Amazon and less exploited by the retail giant.”
Originally published by Women’s Wear Daily on July 13th, 2018