However, stores like Best Buy and Walmart are developing strategies that highlight Amazon’s weakest link, customer service. As a local retailer you can complain and run to the hills in protest and fear of Amazon, it changes nothing. Amazon is here to stay but it doesn’t mean you are out the door. As your company’s marketer/owner, your job is to understand your customers as they change and serve them in the best way possible. Amazon is, however, doing something exceptionally well, sending products to online shoppers faster than anyone else on the planet. Your customers may be ordering your products or similar ones on Amazon but what are you doing to enhance their shopping experience? Best Buy has recently initiated a program that will allow customers to have a technology concierge make house calls to assess the technology needs of their homes. This will include recommending safety features, best sound, and visual devices for your home as well as delivery and installation. That is something Amazon cannot offer. Hyper customer service is changing the scope of retail, it is focusing on customer relationship building. This is key to developing long-term loyalty which can pay off greatly over time. Think of a customer that comes to your business on a regular basis. How much do they spend each time? Multiply that by months and then years that they have been loyal. Is this worth your time to enhance their experience? It costs less to keep and develop loyal customers than it does to acquire new ones. Think about allocating part of your ad budget to fostering the relationship with dedicated customers.
Doubling down on customer service, quality, and convenience for your customers is the best strategy to follow to compete against Amazon. Big retailers are doing it so why can’t you? Walmart and other grocery chains are now allowing customers to order goods online and pick them up at curbside. This is a direct response to Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods which was a direct signal to Walmart that they are coming for them. Walmart now also offers free two-day shipping to their customers. Special shopping events that offer one-time savings are bringing shoppers back to brick and mortar stores. Build-A-Bear stores recently offered a “pay your age” event that allowed shoppers to buy a stuffed animal at amazing prices for one day only. Stores became so overwhelmed that doors had to be closed early. You may be saying to yourself that you don’t have the budget or staff to offer these services or put on special events. Yet these examples are how companies are paying attention to customer needs and finding creative ways to increase value. Henry Ford once said, “If I asked what the customer wanted they would ask for a faster horse”. What defines a good idea? One thing is to be remarkable. Unique offerings and special events have one thing in common they are remarkable and make people talk and spread the word organically this is why many trends go viral on social media. Think about how you can create a remarkable service for your customers that provides hyper customer service, quality, and convenience.
“Business Tips” was written by Alejandro Castañon, Business Development Specialist of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact him at Alejandro.Castañon@angelo.edu.