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Guest Blogger

by Steve Gershik, CMO, inRiver

2019 has so far delivered a promising start for the worlds’ second $1tn company, a company that has already been named the world’s most valuable brand, ahead of both Google and Apple. What’s more, last week saw the marketplace surpass its Q4 earnings and revenue estimates, to round off its highest ever sales year

But, what is it about Amazon that makes it the first stop for nearly half of shoppers (45%) according to inRiver data?

Quite frankly, Amazon has become the master of delivering exceptional customer experiences; one that provides consumers with confidence, instils long-term loyalty and, above all, set a benchmark for all other online retailers to adhere to. Put simply, if retailers don’t adapt quickly, their very existence is at risk.

Here’s what other retailers can learn from the e-commerce giant:

Capture attention before it goes elsewhere

Today, competition for consumer attention is harder than ever before. Consumers browsing the internet are likely to face a barrage of distractions which may turn their focus away from your website. As soon as a shopper arrives on a website, the clock is ticking, and the time the retailer has to convince them why they should purchase and purchase from them is running out. Retailers must understand how to understand the customer and meet their needs.

Our recent research found nearly half of shoppers visit at least two online sources to inform their purchase decisions before they buy. This shows consumers are seeking out as much product information as possible to make an informed decision. However, when buying a product on Amazon, nearly all the information is provided and it’s where you expect it to be. There’s never a reason to go elsewhere.

Retailers need to ensure that the product information they provide is rich, consistent and visual. Descriptions need to be detailed, with dimensions and specifications clearly stated. If these details are lacking, over half (52%) of consumers will stay less than 30 seconds before going elsewhere.

Compelling imagery is crucial

Providing engaging imagery is key to capturing the imagination of the consumer within those crucial first seconds. But, it can work both ways. A lack of imagery is a deterrent for one fifth of buyers who will instantly lose interest and instead pursue a competitor. High quality images that allow shoppers to zoom in and rotate to view from different angles will enhance the experience, and give consumers confidence in the retailer.

Moreover, products photographed in different contexts will resonate best amongst consumers, stimulating their imagination. For example, a retailer selling a lamp should not only provide images of the lamp itself, but also within different complimentary room contexts, enabling the consumer to think about how the product might fit within their own home.

Let shoppers press play

With one third of consumers more likely to click ‘buy’ if there is a video to showcase the product, retailers shouldn’t underestimate the power of video within the purchase journey. Specifically, ‘how-to’ videos are a great way of telling a story, while highlighting the benefits of a product and equipping shoppers with a rich understanding of the product.

Our research identified YouTube as the most trusted platform for product information. What’s more, Google found that ‘how to’ videos garner the most attention over any other content category on YouTube. Investing in the production of good quality video content will also encourage shoppers to spend more time on a website.

Retailers who neglect video content are missing a trick that could be detrimental to sales. If customers feel as though they know what they’re getting, they’ll be less likely to be disappointed when the product arrives. Ultimately, the more accurate and engaging the product information, the less likely it is that items will be returned.

Free and fast shipping

Delivery times and costs can be a deal breaker for customers looking for last-minute purchases. Amazon has raised the bar with its Prime offering, wherein shoppers can receive free, next-day delivery on thousands of items. Retailers need to be meeting these expectations, communicating accurate delivery dates and prices is the difference between making a sale and losing a customer forever.

Transparent and clear pricing before checkout will ensure customers know how much they’ll be charged, all in and will deter them from abandoning a purchase. Retailers can also use real-time stock information to give shoppers a sense of urgency. Consumers feel the urgency to buy when they know there’s just one item left in their size for example.

Make your case – or get customers to do it for you!

What’s more powerful than telling someone why they should purchase a product? Getting someone else to do it!  When buying online, consumers crave confidence and certainty. Given they don’t have the opportunity to touch or sample products in the flesh, reviews from other customers will help to fill that void.

Retailers should prioritise showcasing ratings and reviews from existing customers. Knowing that another likeminded person has had a positive experience with a product is likely to remove any doubts, and convert a browser into a buyer.

Amazon might be leading the way when it comes to providing an exemplary customer experience, but there is certainly a lot to be learned from the retail giant that other retailers can use to power their own businesses. Implementing such measures will help to elevate brands and retailers towards gaining an edge over the competition.

by Steve Gershik, CMO, inRiver  

Steve Gershik leads the talented marketing team at inRiver. As a 20-year veteran of B2B marketing, Steve has worked with many growth-stage technology companies around the world.

Prior to joining inRiver, Steve ran his own marketing consulting firm, Koyne Marketing, was the co-founder and CMO of DemandCon, the demand generation conference, and lead marketing teams for Eloqua, now part of Oracle, and Sirius Decisions. He actively mentors young marketers interested in demand generation and customer marketing.

When not working, Steve can be found hiking in Yosemite, practicing his mixology skills, or speaking at events around the world like Campus Party, Brazil, Dreamforce, BMA, AMA, and DMA.