There’s no doubt that Amazon has changed the way we buy, but the things that make it such a major force are also the reasons why every online business can be better.

Rob Williams, Williams Commerce Chief Executive, says that online businesses can (and should) be better than Amazon. “Amazon focuses on volume, speed and convenience and delivers what it promises very well.”

“What Amazon can’t do is provide personalised services based on detailed understanding of customer needs and preferences. Online businesses are starting to see targeted customer engagement as an opportunity to stand out in the market.”

Strategic approach

A well-planned ecommerce strategy gives retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers gold-plated information about their customers’ behaviour. Using this data as the foundation for exceptional customer service not only helps to win customers, it also builds the company’s reputation.

There are also long-term business benefits. Engaging customers through exceptionally high-quality buying experiences helps to retain them and increase their lifetime value. It can also turn them into advocates, making them your best promotional asset.

Businesses can create and test new products and services with their existing and loyal customer base. They can also offer added value with expert advice, information and exclusive promotions to create a stronger bond than the traditional seller/buyer relationship.

Thinking outside the box

There are also opportunities to extend businesses through online engagement.

For example, following a successful trial in London, Ikea has just bought the odd-jobs company, TaskRabbit, that helps people with chores including assembling flat-pack furniture. John Lewis is launching a similar service, named Home Solutions, providing listings of approved tradespeople.

However, it’s not just about acquisitions or developing new services. There’s scope to collaborate with data too. For example, a recent study by Forbes Insight and Criteo found that 71% of retailers were willing to share search data. Many were already part of a ‘data cooperative’, although confidentiality is recognised as a big issue.

Partnerships

There are also opportunities for valuable collaborations that can extend businesses and deliver complementary services.

In 2016, the Chinese ecommerce giant JD.com began hosting Wal-Mart’s online offer on its ecommerce platform. Both companies are now working together to integrate their platforms, inventories and customer resources in China.

Chinese shoppers can now buy Wal-Mart’s most popular products online from JD.com and in its retail stores while Wal-Mart provides space in its stores for JD’s products. JD’s president, Winston Cheng, has already proclaimed the initiative a success.

Rob Williams says: “This type of innovative thinking is breaking down traditional barriers and challenging accepted standards. In the case of the JD.com and Wal-Mart partnership the integration of online opportunity and fulfilment means that they can now deliver to customers in as little as 30 minutes, beating Amazon’s Prime Now one- and two-hour deliveries in the US.”

For innovative thinking and improved customer engagement, talk to one of our experts.