e-Commerce Loyalty Lessons from Amazon

Posted in: Marketing, Web Design, Work on August 31st, 2012

I just read this Econsultancy article by Chris Moffat: How does Amazon get away with it? and it prompted some thinking into loyalty drivers. In the article Moffat identifies a number of ways Amazon breaks ecommerce rules. In his words:

  • The product reviews often display polar opposite opinions on the same page, often lacking justification. How does that aid the customer purchase decision? I’d argue that it doesn’t.
  • Amazon allows its own customers to undercut their product prices in the Amazon Marketplace. What high street operation would put up with that?
  • The checkout is text-heavy, looks complex and offers a break-out to return to the home page at the order confirmation stage – a real best-practice no no.

He then points out the reasons how Amazon overcomes these, including:

  • The product range has enormous width….
  • Selling prices are low…
  • The delivery message is easy to understand and the actual delivery of goods is extremely reliable.
  • … the internal site search is excellent and produces fast, relevant results.
  • It was first to market…

While not every (any?) other ecommerce site can create the product width that Amazon commands via its marketplace or drop prices to undercut competitors, they can drive customer loyalty through distribution (on-time and reliable delivery) and site usability (in this case search).

Loyalty via Reliable Distribution

Ok, so Amazon is big enough to offer attractive and cheap delivery options. But one of the great things they do is create a clear value proposition throughout the order process that creates realistic deliver expectations in the customer’s mind. They also value add by offering text message services and email updates to notify customers at key stages throughout the delivery process. In other words, customers know when their product should arrive, and this expectation is reinforced by regular communication. For me, Amazon’s excellent delivery proposition is one of the main reasons I remain loyal.

Loyalty via Simple Site Search

As Moffat says, Amazon’s site search is awesome! I would go out on a limb and say it is better than Google Product search. If you take a look at the screenshots below you will see that the bulk of the Google shopping results page on my 15in laptop screen emphasizes ads to third party websites. Amazon on the other hand, shows relevant results with a huge number of filtering options on the left sidebar, making it very easy for me to drilldown to what I actually want. The point I am trying to make is that site search is important! Nielsen has been talking about thissince 1997…. Easy to use site search with nice filtering options make finding products a more pleasurable experience for customers, leading to increased customer loyalty. I know that I will often go straight to Amazon.com when I want to search for a product, even if I don’t necessarily intend on buying.

A search for Backpacks on Google
A search for Backpacks on Google
A search for Backpacks on Amazon
A search for Backpacks on Amazon


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