Competing Against Amazon

Competing Against Amazon

The Retail Profit Doug Stephens has astutely observed that purchasing products from Amazon is the quickest route from wanting to receiving. There is nothing special or emotionally engaging with acquiring goods with a few clicks of a mouse. Yet, Amazon is expected to be responsible for 80 percent of online purchasing growth in 2018 and commands 49 percent of all Internet searches.

What makes Amazon the most dangerous for brick and mortar retailers is their technological superiority and understanding of data and innovation, which enables the company to enter new categories easily. Additionally, through the creation and promotion of its Prime Program that offers free shipping and other benefits, Amazon has amassed and estimated 65 to 85 million members.

Amazon’s innovation enables the company to deliver purchases to the trunks of customers cars and inside consumers’ homes through the Amazon Key Program. Amazon’s goal is to make the lives of its customers as easy as possible. Walmart, not to be outdone, also is testing delivery services and in certain markets will stock your refrigerator with groceries purchased online, reports the Retail Doctor and BKBG Conference speaker Bob Phibbs.

It's a safe bet to project that most kitchen and bath showroom customers are Prime members. That makes it extremely difficult to charge for freight or delivery in your market. How would you respond to clients that say, “Why should I pay freight? I could purchase the same things on Amazon freight-free.”? Manufacturers and brick and mortar retailers need to partner more effectively to have freight included in the purchase price so all products can ship free ala Amazon.

Another Amazon hallmark is that it accepts all returns no questions asked. This is more challenging for brick and mortar kitchen and bath showrooms, because so many orders are custom or semi-custom. Perform an analysis of returns in your showroom. How many requests do you actually get? If they are few and far between, perhaps it’s possible to differentiate your operations from the competition by implementing a more generous return policy.

Make more complete sales by taking a page from Amazon’s messaging that identifies products that the customer might be interested in, pointing out that customers who purchased product X also purchased Y. This is an easy transition during the sale process, “That’s a great choice. We had a client last month who purchased the identical cabinets, and they also purchased a great looking farmhouse sinks outfitted with an industrial chic faucet, instant hot and cold and a waste disposer that is guaranteed for life. They rave more about the sink set up than they do about their cabinets. Would you be interested in looking at similar solutions for your new kitchen?” You can script the consumers who bought X also purchased Y however is best suited for your showroom. The key is to train your sales staff to be aware of the technique and use it regularly if not on every sale.

A kitchen and bath showroom has advantages that can’t be replicated online. If you have the luxury of a working kitchen in your showroom, leverage that competitive advantage by offering customers the opportunity to trial test equipment before purchasing, hold cooking demonstrations with local chefs or introduce new cuisine that your customer may not be familiar with.

Customization is trending and becoming a big business. Nike, Adidas, Coach and others allow customer to customize clothing, shoes and handbags. Kitchen and bath showrooms have been customizing products for their clients for years. Leverage your experience with custom cabinets, fixtures, hardware and other products to enable your customers to make personal design statements in their home and understand and appreciate the knowledge and expertise of showroom professionals.

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