According to Ed Kennedy, the e-commerce strategist from Episerver, the most frightening person in the world for retailers is most likely Jeff Bezos, C.E.O. of Amazon. He doesn’t spend a moment being afraid about you, however. He’s too busy thinking about his customers and what they want. And he’s amazingly good at it, too.
For retailers to compete with megalithic online platforms, you also have to stop being afraid. Fear and worry can turn into obsessive behavior, such as copying every idea the competition has.
Instead, forget the competition. Concentrate on the relationship between your product and your customers. If you know what customers crave from their online experiences better than anyone else, and you exceed those expectations, customer loyalty and success will follow. Focus on loving your customer!
With e-commerce, you are competing with the best experience a consumer has had on the Internet—ever, and across everything, from shopping to social media. This we learned from Kaisa Nick from Google, whose passion is helping Finnish retailers succeed in online selling.
Not only does the experience have to be fast and relevant, it has to be fun. It has to ‘wow’ your customers every time. What’s fun about shopping online? Is it possible to be continuously wowed every time you shop – forever?
You’ll have to be creative, think innovatively and know your specific customers better than your competitors know them. Concentrate on experience-driven selling rather than being transaction centered. Your customer should feel that he or she is receiving an exclusive experience, which will inspire loyalty.
Online shopping should be fast, but it should also be simple. A trend across digitalization is that complex procedures that typically have many moves, like filling a ‘shopping cart’ and moving from page to page to fill in bank card details, is made frictionless. Collector Bank, together with Stadium, has developed a system by which your ID acts as your membership card in-store and is linked to your online account, explains Product Manager Adam Ehn. One account, one always-handy ID, many ways to utilize it.
The good news is that online buying will continue to grow even faster than before, so the customers are there. By 2019, there will be 500 million more online shoppers than there are today. Development Manager at Motoral Henri Ström outlined the methods by which their company secured a firm position with customers through e-commerce. It takes resources and time to achieve this, as well as the painful process of changing the way employees think, but the company is now going into the future optimistically.
The bad news is that there’s work to be done to keep up with online competition. Finns, for example, buy their products ‘across borders’ much more than Swedes and others do, which is a money away from local retailers and a drain on capital. 79% of Finns use smartphones and there are 30 million Google searches everyday here, so it’s a market ripe for the picking for local offerings.
This means that to thrive, Finnish retailers will have to learn to know their specific customers’ desires intimately, and then provide that in a way that blows them away. During the process it’s possible to enter a new market with huge growth potential: online.
Up for the challenge? Good! Make it fast, relevant and something that no one has ever seen before, and you can go to sleep with a smile on your face.