So You Want To Beat Amazon…

Posted by Lisa Roberts at 11:13 am in Merchandising

You aren’t alone. Amazon is the largest online retailer by far selling more than the next 12 competitors—COMBINED! Amazon’s sales are growing at a faster rate than the internet as a whole. No one can compete with Amazon on price, after all this year Amazon did an “eight days of Cyber Monday” promotion that released new deals every ten minutes. And now they are venturing into the world of online price haggling, ethically supplied home baby goods, restaurant takeout, and bike messenger delivery. They really are keeping up with their mantra of providing everything from A to Z.

But when was the last time you went to Amazon just to browse (not search!) for something without a clear idea what you wanted? Was it a good experience?

Amazon, as a result of their every-product-under-the-sun strategy, has become the place to go for fulfillment NOT inspiration. This is reflected everywhere from what they’ve invested in this year (Amazon Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, Amazon Firefly, #AmazonCart) to their site construction. Visually they are encouraging shoppers to immediately search for something when they reach their homepage vs. navigate to a general category.

amazon search bar

But what is the experience if someone DOES want to navigate…they want to “go shopping”? For example, I want to replace my running shoes but I, like 70% of shoppers, am not sure exactly what I want. I’m not an avid runner but, hey, new years resolutions right? To start I’m greeted by a nav that takes up the entire screen of my Mac. I make my way to the Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry category and go another category level down to the women’s section — 2 clicks. I then have to navigate a 3rd and 4th level deeper to shoes and athletic — 4 clicks. One level deeper and I am finally looking at women’s running shoes — 5 clicks. I start scrolling through looking for something that catches my eye… but wait… I’m still looking at 8,267 results! I can filter by a few things like size, brand, and support type but I’m quickly frustrated when there are 0 listings for a size 8, Nike, that’s cushioned. I leave to find my shoe elsewhere. Perhaps I will come back when I know exactly what I want or perhaps not.

amazon experience

So what does this mean for the myriad of retailers that are consistently looking for ways to compete against Amazon? Worry less about racing to the bottom on price and/or competing on a broadened (and costly!) product selection, and more about creating an exceptional and differentiated shopping experience that includes:

  • Inspiration: 70% of people are looking to be inspired

  • A mix of navigation styles: Tactical via filters, inspirational via things like lookbooks, solution-oriented, as well as visual navigation that supports the users that “would know it when I see it”

  • A custom and straight-forward navigation: 64% of people desire simplicity and feel most retail sites have become cluttered and overwhelming

lisa roberts

Lisa Roberts is a 15-year Ecommerce vet who’s worked with technology innovators, including Edgecase, who are building real solutions for hard retailer problems. Her experience working inside a retailer, agency-side and vendor-side give her a unique perspective on how to innovate at the pace of consumer evolution while remaining focused on delivering proven results.

Follow Lisa Roberts on Twitter @lisadoesaustin

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