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Forrester: Everyone is competing against Amazon

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17th Nov 2015
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Waxing lyrical about the customer experience Amazon offers is nothing new.

From sowing the seeds of true digital personalisation to experimenting with always-on customer support tools and delivery drones, the global retailer has regularly been at the forefront of innovation in the CX field, with plenty of content documenting this fact.  

However, Forrester’s latest report hones in on how Amazon’s achievements in CX have transcended retail, raising expectations of what all businesses should be able to offer customers regardless of what sector they officially reside in, or who they sell to and where.

And this, the research house says, is being driven by the “utilitarian” fundamentals of Amazon’s customer experience, including the ubiquity of strategy towards product, selection and price, which sets the brand up to deliver the service it’s currently heralded for.

“Whether you’re a retailer or not, you’re competing with Amazon,” Anjali Lai, Forrester’s analyst serving customer insights professionals and co-author of the Amazon report, warns. “The company’s approach to customer service and fulfillment is powering impressive growth across the globe and raising consumer expectations across the board.

“Its scores on Forrester’s Customer Experience Index place it among the best in class in seven markets across North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific — an unparalleled performance.”

Lai et al. stress that Amazon’s approach is ultimately underpinned by several constants, including its ability to “appeal to customers both cognitively and emotionally; through comprehensive product information and reviews, personalised recommendations, and customised communication” and the way it ‘contains’ negative customer emotions in a controlled and rapid manner, with “seamless issue resolution and isolated, regional-specific criticisms” that mean the damage to Amazon’s reputation and trust are always “minimal and are unlikely to be amplified”.

This last point was made all too apparent by the retailer recently announcing it was taking unprecedented action in suing more than 1,000 people who have posted fake customer reviews on its website, citing the potential damage to its reputation for doing so.

"These reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon's brand,” the lawsuit stated, at the time.

And while this sort of event has been met with many commentators stating the retailer has become more totalitarian than utility, in the short term, the all-encompassing nature of Amazon’s approach means many businesses will need to address their own CX delivery, regardless of how peripheral the retailer may appear to them. And this means B2B markets, also:

“What does Amazon know about succeeding in B2B?” said James Cronin general manager of commerce EMEA for NetSuite, on MyCustomer.com in February. “Basically, B2B buyers increasingly want the same shopping experience they have as consumers on B2C ecommerce sites. The same people who buy shoes online are also buying supplies for their companies, and they demand the availability, convenience and service available on consumer sites.         

“A survey by the Acquity Group found that 57% of business buyers have bought goods for their organisations online, and 37% expect to spend more of their procurement budgets online next year. That survey, 2013 State of B2B Procurement Study also found that 71% of all respondents said they'd be more likely to order online or buy more than they would if it was easier and more convenient to browse and buy goods online.”

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