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Amazon: Do As They Say, Not As They Do

by Robert Hetu  |  February 21, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

There was a constant and pervasive theme at NRF 2017 in NYC this past January. It centered around what to do about the threat of Amazon. Great, finally the market has woken up to the fact that virtually every retailer competes with Amazon. When it comes to responding to Amazon my advice to traditional retailers is like parental advice of old – do as I say not as I do. There is a twist in this case however, as Amazon does what it says (at least most of the time). My point here is that you will not out-Amazon Amazon. However it represents a goldmine of ideas that can be shamelessly emulated.

Remember that a disrupter works by taking advantage of the chinks in your armor. Anyone that ever used a NYC taxi understands why Uber is successful.  Look at virtually every disrupting organization and you will find that they solved a pain point in the customer experience.   This isn’t really a new thing, it just happens so fast now due to technology.

The trick is to adopt and adapt Amazonian innovations that enhance your value proposition as a retailer. I like to look at the digital transformation story that is Amazon:

Amazon digital transformation

  1. Amazon disrupts book distribution through home delivery
  2. Amazon disrupts book publication through content digitalization
  3. Amazon disrupts retail with eCommerce
  4. Amazon uses Prime to disrupt eCommerce fulfillment
  5. Amazon uses Prime to disrupt consumption of entertainment
  6. Amazon uses Dash buttons to disrupt ordering
  7. Amazon enhances Dash with more concise ordering capabilities
  8. Amazon disrupts ordering and consumption with voice recognition
  9. Amazon disrupts retail again with physical stores like Amazon Go

Now the question is, how can you use any or all of these to disrupt your business, or another? Unfortunately traditional retailers are not really aware enough to identify accurately what customers value. First to thine own self be true.  What I mean is to focus on what you do best.  What is your brand known for? How could these technologies or other digitalization efforts enhance the customer’s life, experience, and transaction?  Our retail agenda for 2017 will help retailers understand how to proceed in this environment.  Gartner clients can learn more here:

Transforming From Multichannel to Unified Retail Commerce Primer for 2017
Implementing Customer-Centric Merchandising and Marketing in Retail


Category: retail-trends  

Tags: advanced-analytics  amazon  analytics  brands  customer-analytics  customer-centricity  digital  multichannel  omni-channel  retail  trends  unified-retail-commerce  

Robert Hetu
VP, Analyst Retail
7 years at Gartner
29 years IT Industry

Bob Hetu is a Research Director with the Gartner Retail Industry Services team. His responsibilities involve tracking the technology markets and trends impacting the broad-based retail merchandising and planning areas. Mr. Hetu is an expert in the areas of brand, vendor and assortment management, merchandise planning, allocation, and replenishment. Read Full Bio

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