Leadership

Learn from Amazon and Apply these Key Insights to your Business

August 28, 2018
There’s a wealth of great E-commerce ideas, concepts and actual experiences out there and you would be foolish not to take advantage of all this information and apply it to your business. Rest assured, if you don’t then someone else will.  I’m talking specifically about non-proprietary best practices, which many businesses should definitely learn and understand.   
 
In this post, let’s talk about several things we can learn from Amazon.  These Amazon practices are proven in the market so knowing this information could help you take the shackles off your E-commerce business.
 
Why Swipe a Page from Amazon’s Playbook?
 
Amazon is the clear leader in US e-commerce, In 2017, they accounted for more than 44% of all digital sales. No wonder, then, that both consumers and business buyers have come to expect the same state-of-the-art experience that the world’s most consumer-centric company consistently delivers to its 310 million active customers.
 
The so-called “Amazon Experience” has set the bar very high for others. What features and functionality are we talking about? Here are a few of the characteristics that make Amazon #1 when it comes to site satisfaction:
 
  • Product findability
  • Intuitive search
  • Personalized content and recommendations
  • Ease and convenience of ordering
  • Unrivaled fulfillment and delivery
 
If you are a retailer or brand, then you have to look at your capabilities in these areas. These are the benchmarks by which your customers will measure you. With that thought in mind, it makes great sense to recognize -- and emulate -- the methods and techniques Amazon utilizes to deliver a leading-edge customer experience.
 
A State-of-the-Art E-Commerce Platform
 
This is the easy part. Today’s e-commerce platforms now contain many of the features for shopping, mobile optimization, and product presentation that Amazon is utilizing. If you are using Magento Commerce, Shopify Plus, Episerver or Big Commerce, then you’ll have most of these same functionalities right out of the box. Just make sure you are not settling for a second-tier provider or an outdated solution. Customers will quickly abandon any site that loads slowly or doesn’t deliver the features they’ve come to expect.
 
Cutting-Edge Site Search
 
Amazon is best in the world at site search. Customers utilize the platform because they know that they’ll immediately get relevant results (even though those results come from sorting through millions of different items). To be that accurate and useful with that many products is astounding. So what can you imitate here?
 
To begin with, relevant results are built on a foundation of both solid and normalized data. What that means, in layperson’s terms, is that your product attributes and descriptions contain information that’s useful to customers, clearly defined, in-depth, and specified in a standardized way. 
 
Here’s another important point about normalized data. If your product is measured in inches, then every 3.5-inch piece should be represented the same way (3.5-inches as opposed to 3 ½ inches, 3.5” or three-and-a-half inches). If your data is not normalized it will skew the search results. 
 
Amazon is also great at filtering and drilling down (by price, brand, color, etc). You should study how they do this because it will help you understand how the depth and clarity of product information helps sell customers.
 
Keep in mind that site search converts at a much higher rate than non-searches (5 times higher on average). Amazon has oriented their site to be extremely search friendly. You should do the same because platforms with intuitive features and relevant results lead to repeat customers.
 
A Culture of Testing
 
Amazon is one of the best companies in the world at learning from experience. They’re not afraid to fail, but they are fanatical about testing. This empirical approach encompasses everything from large business concepts to the individual features on their site.
 
Amazon Supply is a case study in the company’s fearless determination to hone in on what works. It was their first foray into B2B commerce, but it didn’t succeed because of a lack of assortment, buying base, and some features necessary to B2B E-commerce. Consequently, they shut it down, began learning from their mistakes, and then relaunched Amazon Business. The new venture is only a few years old, but it’s worth at least $3B. The culture of trying and testing is what made this success possible.
 
This means that A/B testing and multivariate tests should be a huge part of your toolkit. More specifically, you’ll want to create different versions of an online experience, test them against one another, and then let your customers tell you which one they enjoyed the best. 
 
Takeaway
 
Amazon is setting the standard for customer satisfaction when it comes to E-commerce. The techniques and methods that are fueling their success are hardly under lock and key -- they are available to any business savvy enough to recognize a good idea when they see it. 
 
Amazon's best practices are proven in the market, so take advantage of each and every opportunity to learn from them. If you’re not leveraging these key learnings from the online giant, then it’s a safe bet your competitors are which will certainly put your business at a disadvantage.