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Trends in E-Commerce – What Would Amazon Do?


A couple of other Brooks Bell team members and myself attended a panel last week, hosted by the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association, about the current trends in e-commerce.  It was a great panel and we walked away with a lot of takeaways and ideas. There was one question, however, which seemed prominent in both the panel and in the QA session.  It was the big pink elephant in the room, relating to the universally-acknowledged leader in e-commerce trends – what would Amazon do?

I’ve found this question sticking with me since the event and it really hit home when I saw the new Amazon commercial on TV this week.  Many people in the marketing world have been discussing the ad for its controversy, since it released product details of the new Kindle Fire and backlit Kindle e-reader before their actual product announcement.  But to me, Amazon’s latest ad is simply fantastic.  It affirms that they are “the company with the smile on the box” also scored points with me, because after all, who isn’t happy to see an Amazon delivery on their doorstep?  They boast that they are the “reinventors of normal,” creating new products and services that “change your life and then disappear.”

As a marketer, as a consumer and as an Amazon Prime member, I love it.  I applaud the ad’s ingenuity, its value proposition, its sentimentality and especially its accuracy, since they did reinvent the “new normal,” after all.  What was my life like before I had the knowledge that I could order a product on Prime for less than I’d spend in most stores and have it no more than two days later?  They have firmly planted themselves as the e-commerce trend leader every e-commerce marketer wants to either keep up with or stay ahead of.

Examining Amazon’s success has led me to wonder how we, as marketers, can emulate, or even get ahead of, their innovation.  The answer is simple.  TEST.  Amazon didn’t jump into the e-commerce market with their eyes closed.  They tried things.  If something didn’t work, they tweaked it and tried it again.  If something worked well, they expanded it.  It’s testing in its most basic form.

Amazon logo

Here are my takeaways on testing lessons we can learn from Amazon:

·       Test to discover, and eventually establish, the “new normal.”  Who says the ideas you implement on your site or in your store have to be what’s expected?  Take risks and run with a completely new idea.  With testing, you don’t have to put all your eggs in the new basket – you can try a little bit of traffic at a time.  Just TRY it.

·       Take pride in a win.  Amazon wasn’t afraid to boast about their successes and accomplishments, and it wasn’t just about bragging because they did it in a way that focused on how much their innovations have benefited the lives of their customers.  When you do something great for your users, don’t be afraid to remind them about it on occasion.

·       Let one win inspire another.  Amazon’s claim that they “change lives and then disappear” is powerful because it’s true.  Human nature is that we have a short term memory and appreciation for life-altering discoveries.  We are constantly looking for the newest and greatest thing.  The beauty of iterative testing is that you can launch from one test learning directly into another, letting each test drive the direction for the next.

Let Amazon’s example be a challenge to us to step outside our comfort zone and try something new.  The beauty of testing is that no change is permanent and every test can teach us something about what our audience is asking for.  All we have to do is listen.