A Strategy to Keep Your Customers Buying Direct
If you market a retail brand, chances are you’re feeling a bit uncertain about your future, and that uncertainty is likely being driven in large part by Amazon. Amazon is aggressively expanding into brick and mortar, launching private label brands, and is always willing to lose money to acquire new customers.
Amazon just announced that Prime membership has reached 100,000,000, a number they are aggressively looking to grow by targeting both low-income Americans and international households. Most importantly, Amazon owns value and convenience, something most brands struggle to compete against.
It’s no longer enough for retail brands to develop customer acquisition and retention strategies. They also need a strategy specifically designed to combat Amazon’s impact on their DTC business: an Amazon Defense Strategy. The first step to develop your own Amazon Defense Strategy and keep your customers buying direct is to ask yourself three questions:
1. What is it that brought our customers to us the first place?
There is a reason your customers bought your product or shopped with you. What is it? Have you lost sight of it? Or has it changed over time? Why do your customers continue to shop with you, and what are the motivations behind their behaviors? What about the people that left you and now shop with Amazon instead—why did they walk away?
Takeaway: You need to uncover what is causing your customers to stay with you or leave you for Amazon. While data analysis will reveal correlations of behavior, only insight into the motivation behind their behavior will reveal the causes.
2. What can I offer that Amazon can’t?
Now that you understand why your customers connect with your brand and why some have left, think about what you can offer that is uniquely ownable by you. Is there a product, service or experience that only can provide? Is there a social cause that is relevant to your brand’s promise that you can uniquely deliver against? What can your brand offer your customers that is as relevant (or more relevant) than being fast and cheap?
Takeaway: Amazon owns value and convenience, but by tapping into your unique customer motivations you can create a connection where value and convenience don’t tip the scale enough for Amazon to compete.
3. Who can I partner with?
Collaborations continue to be a ray of light in an otherwise gloomy retail outlook. They surprise and delight consumers and extend your reach to new audiences. Recent examples of attention-getting collaborations include IKEA and SPÄNST, Nordstrom and Anthropologie, and Supreme and Louis Vuitton. Best of all they are unique and exclusive to you and your partner, create an entirely new brand experience, and cannot be replicated. What other brands could you partner with? What are the most unexpected combinations? What are the most compelling?
Takeaway: Partnerships create a unique value proposition for your and your partner, giving your customers a reason to continue to shop direct while extending your reach to new audiences.
Answer the questions above, and you will be on your way to crafting a strategy to defend your business against Amazon and keeping your customers buying direct.
By Katie Fiore, Design Thinking Practitioner