The Amazon Limbo – How Low Can You Go?

Published on: August 29, 2017
By: Mark Detelich

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On Monday the retail industry caught yet another glimpse into the world of Amazon, as they closed their acquisition of Whole Foods and simultaneously rolled out significant price cuts at the grocer. In true Amazon style, the cuts were deep and wide, applying not just to niche items but also pantry staples and key trip-drivers that entice consumers into the store. Just as they have done online for years, Amazon has now further lowered the limbo stick on pricing yet another notch, and is challenging the rest of the retail industry to lean back and try to make it under without collapsing. 

It’s not a bad strategy, especially when you are as limber as Amazon and can easily scoot even further under the limbo bar if others try to follow. Clearly, shoppers like reduced pricing, and in a recent study we conducted at Market Track, we found that 82% would try new retailers because of it. But it isn’t the only game in town, as over half of respondents (57%) said they’d shop a retailer to try a new experience and 46% said they'd do it to find new products.

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Source: InfoScout, a Market Track Company

So, in the game of pricing limbo, winning may be best defined by your ability to avoid the need to discount ever more deeply, and instead differentiate and engage shoppers in other meaningful ways. And hopefully ones that won’t hurt your back so much.

Start with the shopper experience. You may not have the breadth of assortment or depth of discounts found on Amazon, but you can have the richest content online and the best customer service in the store. Engagement that establishes emotional connections and trust with your shoppers, illustrates the value and use of your products, and inspires a sense of community and authentic excitement - not just a sale. Think about it, you probably don’t go to Starbucks just to get a coffee.  

Consumers today are starved for time, and searching for convenience. They want options. Assess and leverage your assets to ensure you can offer the best purchase and delivery options when a product is needed now, same day, next day, or 1-3 days from now. Create an integrated Omni-Media, Omni-Channel, ecosystem that reinforces purchase behavior and redirects shoppers when needed. Market Track’s research has shown that 42% of shoppers make a purchase in-store every time they shop, but only 11% purchase online every time. You need to service your shopper whenever, wherever, and however they may like.

When shopping ONLINE vs. IN-STORE, how often do you make a purchase? 
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Source: Market Track's Shopper Insight Series Survey

Get local and get personal. The endless aisles of Amazon may hold some appeal, but your aisles can hold the critical knowledge and experience of the local market. From artisan brands, local produce, and targeted assortments to hyper-local promotions and pricing, there are advantages to be had. Don’t waste the precious few connections you have with your shopper at any point in their process and fail to learn more about how you can meet their needs. Then, leverage all of your shopper insights to create meaningful offers, and targeted messaging.    

So, Jack be nimble and Jack be quick, but don’t think you have to go under that Amazon limbo stick. Armed with accurate data and facts about your competitive pricing, product assortment, market dynamics, and shoppers, I’m sure you’ll find new and innovative ways to change the limbo game into one in which both you and your customers will win.

 

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Mark Detelich is the Chief Strategy and Solutions Officer at Market Track, a leading provider of marketing and business intelligence. He can be reached at mdetelich@markettrack.com.

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