Amazon’s third annual Prime Day came and went this week, but before you dismiss the mega sale as a gimmick, you might want to consider what its existence — and the strategy behind it — mean for your own future sales.
“Some might claim that Prime Day is simply another excuse for a mid-summer sale and that Amazon is no different from other retailers trying to boost revenue during slower summer months,” writes Marcia Layton Turner for Forbes, who suggests Prime Day is an example of “a superior growth strategy and a preview of the future of loyalty.”
In fact, the event, which some retail analysts say could eventually rank with Cyber Monday and Black Friday for consumers looking for a deal, ticks off three goals for the retail giant: It gets new customers and encourages existing customers to 1) buy more and 2) buy more frequently.
How can a small business owner compete, and what lessons can be learned from Prime Day? Quite a few, argues Layton Turner:
Personalization is the real king. “Amazon uses AI (artificial intelligence) to anticipate what its customers are likely to need before they even know they need it,” explains Patrick Reynolds, CMO at SessionM. “That’s the sign of a good retailer — a company that meets customer needs and anticipates other needs.” You probably don’t have a robust AI division in-store but you do have the ability to train your staff to look at things such as purchase history before suggesting a gift — something customer service guru Tim Huckabee frequently advocated in his long-running Floral Management magazine column — or to send thoughtful gift reminders to existing customers. Those kinds of tailored suggestions can go a long way with customers who have grown accustomed to getting AI suggestions online (“If you like that, you might also like this.”)
Experience matters. Another way to compete head-to-head with events such as Prime Day: Play up your in-store offerings. “To compete and be successful, smaller retailers need to focus on the in-store experience,” says Reynolds. “That could include anything from personal shopping, to free gift wrap, to classes, demonstrations, or other experiences customers would appreciate. Since Amazon competes solely on commoditized products, another potential differentiator smaller retailers can mine is stocking more unusual or hard-to-find products, such as handmade or one-of-a-kind goods.” That’s something Gus and Cameron Pappas have been doing for the past few years in Birmingham, Alabama, where their business, Norton’s Florist, now stocks an increasing number of locally made goods and containers, to the delight of millennial shoppers. (Read more about the shop in the August issue of Floral Management — hitting your mail and inbox soon.)
A final suggestion: Prime Day is also about customer loyalty. Amazon wants customers to think of the company as the easy option — the place where all of their info is stored, shipping and returns are a snap and payment is fast. If you haven’t done so already, consider implementing a loyalty program that makes it easy (and rewarding) for customers to choose your shop as their go-to flower and plant destination. Read about how one shop in Connecticut developed its own customer loyalty program — and snagged Floral Management magazine’s Marketer of the Year honors for the effort.