As the year 2000 drew closer, people around the world began preparing for the worst. Families stocked up on candles and bottled water, companies worked over-time to ensure their computer systems were equipped, and the Australian government appointed a minister responsible for ‘Millennium bug watch’. And then…very little happened.
When Amazon announced plans to open in Australia, a similar doomsday panic seemed to grip some in the retail industry (and the media). While we can’t predict the impact the online retailer will have on the local market, there’s a good chance that in hindsight the concerns will be overstated.
As Martin Cox, the founder of Melbourne-based digital agency DO Commerce, told Retailbiz, the market will probably change, but not overnight.
“No one really knows 100 per cent what impact it will have on the Australian market,” said Cox. “I’ve been saying there’s a bit of the Y2K bug about it—people think Amazon will open its doors and everything will change overnight.”
Rather than getting caught up in the hysteria surrounding Amazon, Cox is more realistic about the implications of the international marketplace setting up shop here.
“I don’t think Amazon is going to come in and pick up all this low hanging fruit and take a huge chunk of the ecommerce pie [straight away],” he said. “With all the coverage they’re getting they are going to have a lot of customers from day one… But ecommerce is a pretty big pie and that pie is going to continue to grow.
“I think people who get too worried about it at this point in time and focus on the negatives are not going to see the positives and opportunities that come with this bigger player coming in and growing the pie for everyone.”
Improving your ecommerce
For those retailers who are concerned about the impact of Amazon, Cox said ecommerce success is about playing to your strengths and nailing the basics. This means ensuring you online offering is as frictionless as possible for customers by having an easy to navigate site and transparent pricing and shipping information, so there are no surprises once your customer reaches the checkout.
Once you have this right, you should focus on enriching the shopping experience and thinking about how to deliver the ‘wow factor’ for your customers.
Cox said offering exceptional service online means finding ways to make your ecommerce offering as customer-centric as a physical retail experience.
“For example, if you’re selling footwear you should look at ways to make the purchasing experience like that of a bricks-and-mortar store,” said Cox.
“Things like helping customers select the right shoe size, having a great returns policy and shipping options.
“It’s no different to when you go to a shopping centre. You can go to a department store where there are a million products to choose from, or you can go to a shoe shop where products are easier to find and there’s better service—this is the experience you want to create online.”
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