Ever wondered what Amazon is doing right? Our guest post author reveals all...
As the owner of an eCommerce business, increasing your sales numbers is always near the top of your goals, right?
Okay, okay… I guess that’s a bit of a silly question.
Increasing eCommerce sales is always the name of the game, whether you’re:
Now, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you have to continually reinvent the wheel to spur an increase in sales for your eCommerce business.
But that’s simply not true.
Yes, it’s important to be innovative, creative, and progressive in your customer-facing efforts—but you don’t need to start from scratch with every initiative you undertake.
All you have to do is put your own unique spin on the tried-and-true approaches that have worked for the world’s largest and most successful e-retailer.
There’s no denying that the team behind Amazon knows what it’s doing in terms of increasing sales and revenue.
I mean, take a look at this chart detailing Amazon’s revenues since 2004:
It speaks for itself, no?
This massive success was hardly accidental. Like we said, Bezos & Co. know what they’re doing.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at how sticking to seven key principles enables Amazon to continue thriving 25 years after its inception.
As we alluded to above, it’s not so much about copying Amazon’s strategies and tactics, but more understanding why these approaches have worked so well—and applying them to your customer experience in ways that work best for your company.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
You’ve heard all the stories about how Amazon sees the customer as “the most important person in the room.”
This isn’t some trite, “customer-is-always-right” bit of lip service, either; Amazon is well-known for being completely driven by customer data. Basically, every decision Amazon makes—on a large scale as well as when engaging with individual customers—is not only based on data, but is actually spurred by it.
On a macro level, Amazon consistently has its fingers on the pulse of every industry it operates in. The company’s big data-related initiatives enable Amazon to improve its various processes and experiences—and evolve the services it provides its customers.
And, of course, Amazon also tracks its individual customer’s every step as they engage with the company (and traverse the web, in general). All this data serves to inform the way Amazon personalizes the experience for its individual customers.
On the one hand, this is all part of Amazon’s customer-centric nature. With all this data in-hand, Amazon’s team can determine the best way to keep its customers happy and engaged at any given time.
Of course, with this increased engagement comes increased sales.
(It’d be pretty naive to think Amazon doesn’t have profits in mind at all times too, right?)
To put it clearly:
Every data-backed, customer-experience-improving move Amazon makes also serves the purpose of driving an increase in sales and revenues.
We’ll talk more about how Amazon actually does all this throughout the rest of this article.
For now, the lesson to take from this is that customer data should be at the heart of every move you make when aiming to spur sales. This is more than just “considering” your data as you go about making changes. The data should be the reason you’re making the change in the first place.
Your data isn’t going to lie to you.
If it shows that doing x leads to more sales productivity than doing y, the path to take should be crystal clear.
To be blunt:
You’re not going to increase sales by providing a subpar customer experience.
Overall, you need to ensure your customers always end up walking away from an engagement with complete satisfaction.
This is where Amazon truly shines.
According to a 2017 survey from Statista, the vast majority of Amazon’s customers say they’re satisfied with the company’s service and support teams:
More than just providing top-notch customer service, Amazon also works to streamline and enhance its entire customer experience, as well.
For one thing, Amazon makes it easy for customers to get exactly what they came for when visiting the site.
In terms of navigability, Amazon’s search and browsing functions allow customers to quickly find the type of product they’re looking for:
Amazon also allows sellers to provide a ton of information on their products—allowing the customer to make a more educated purchasing decision.
(It’s also worth pointing out functions like the “Buy Now” button, which help spur potential customers to immediate action. We’ll come back to this later.)
By making the customer’s path to purchase easy to navigate, Amazon makes the process of improving sales all but automatic.
Amazon’s ability to cater to its customers’ transactional needs is another key reason its sales numbers remain sky-high:
The lesson here is:
If your goal is to start selling more, you need to focus on how to be more customer centric. Your overall customer experience must meet (and, ideally, exceed) your customers’ expectations at every turn.
If this piece of the puzzle isn’t in place, implementing the “nitty-gritty” tactics we’ll now be discussing isn’t going to do all that much for your sales numbers.
For eCommerce companies, the value of running Google Ads - both Google Search Ads as well as Google Shopping - just cannot be overstated.
The team at Amazon knows this—which is why it’s constantly running Google Ads for millions of products at any given time.
Google Search Ad
Two key concepts to note from these examples:
First, notice how specific the longtail keywords are for each ad.
This tells us that Amazon develops individual ads for individual products, to be presented when the consumer searches for them by name. By creating product name or model number-specific ads for matching longtail keywords, Amazon attracts customers with a clear purchase intention.
The other thing to note is that Amazon’s team doesn’t manually create these millions upon millions of ads.
Take another look at the text-based ad from above:
Note how certain words are bolded?
That’s by design; the rest is a template, created via Dynamic Keyword Insertion and dynamic Google Ads.
As the name suggests, Dynamic Keyword Insertion is the automated process of placing specific keywords into an ad’s copy accordingly. Each of Amazon’s ads are automatically generated using dynamically-chosen phrases from Amazon’s ad copy database—then presented to the consumer in a way that Amazon’s AI has determined to be most effective.
Looking again at Amazon’s Google Shopping ad:
Without going too far into everything that happens here, the gist is that Amazon syncs its product library within its Google Shopping account, enabling the team to automatically generate ads for specific products as needed.
Tl;dr: Amazon uses AI to create highly-relevant and targeted ads that easily bring in business to its virtual doorstep.
But, the lesson here isn’t to rely on AI and other technology to run your PPC ads for you.
If the name of the game is improving sales via your PPC campaigns, the lesson is to target the right customers by targeting the right longtail keywords.
Think of it like this:
The person searching google for “electric guitar” might eventually end up making a purchase. But the person searching for “Fender Player Telecaster Maple Fingerboard Electric Guitar” is almost definitely looking to purchase a specific product.
If the goal is to attract customers to that specific guitar (and get them to buy it), it’s a no-brainer which keyword will produce better results.
If you can get the right ads in front of an audience whose wallets are practically already open, they’re gonna convert in droves.
Okay, here’s where we get into the more ground-level tactics that will spur your customers toward conversion.
Overall, it’s all about using psychology to engage your audience—not to trick them into engaging further, but to bring them to a conscious decision to do so.
First things first:
In addition to being fully-functional (as we mentioned earlier), your eCommerce website must be aesthetically pleasing to your audience. Of course, there’s no “one way” to go about creating an aesthetically-pleasing website; it all has to do with your brand’s “feel,” as well as your customers’ expectations when engaging with you.
Anyone that uses Amazon can recognize its website a mile away:
It’s also worth noting that function and aesthetics aren’t isolated—or, at least, they shouldn’t be. Your approach to merchandising on your eCommerce site requires you attend to both form and function as you create an experience that always keeps the customer moving toward conversion.
(Again, Amazon has this covered in the many ways it showcases its various products and services.)
Amazon’s use of psychology is also evident in how it creates a sense of urgency amongst its customers:
In the above example, Amazon makes clear there are only five items left in stock—meaning customers need to act fast if they want to purchase it. Additionally, customers who act immediately are promised to receive their order within two days at no extra charge.
Speaking of cost, Amazon also approaches its pricing strategies with consumer psychology in mind.
Rather than simply undercutting its competition across the board, Amazon relies on the perceived price of its products in the eyes of the customer. This allows the company to sell products at higher prices simply because the customer is willing to shell out the extra cash.
(Okay, this is a drastic oversimplification of Amazon’s pricing strategies. For our purposes, just know that increasing sales through your pricing strategy requires much more than simply offering bargain-basement prices.)
Pricing also comes into play when looking at how Amazon presents its products, as well.
Give us your knee-jerk reaction:
At a single glance, which of the above laptops is probably highest in price and/or quality?
You picked the one on the right, didn’t you?
(If you didn’t, stop being difficult and play along.)
All kidding aside, this is a pretty straightforward example of how Amazon uses price anchoring to narrow an individual customer’s choices to the specific product they’re looking for.
Price anchoring also serves to help consumers rationalize specific purchases. Going back to the above example, an individual looking for a mid-range laptop might be okay with spending an extra $200 on the more expensive computer (as long as it provides $200 in added value, that is).
One last psychological tactic worth discussing is Amazon’s ability to make the consumer feel safe in their purchasing decision.
Within each product page, Amazon presents a variety of customer-generated feedback:
This social proof allows Amazon to pile on the reasons a potential customer should pull the trigger and go through with the purchase.
Going along with social proof, Amazon’s reputation precedes itself—yet the company still guarantees its customers’ satisfaction across the board.
(Just one of Amazon’s many customer-facing guarantees.)
Such guarantees take the risk off the customer’s shoulders—allowing them to proceed with their purchases from Amazon with 100% confidence.
The goal of using psychology isn’t to coerce your customers to buy more; it’s to make them feel comfortable doing so—and to spur them to action.
Want your customers to be more engaged and do more business with your brand?
Get them to commit to their relationship with your company.
To receive Prime services, members must pay a yearly membership to the VIP-type service. In turn, the Prime member is privy to free and quicker deliveries, lower prices, and a variety of other perks as defined by Amazon.
This works to spur increased engagement in a few different ways.
That is, Prime members are more likely to:
Now, you don’t necessarily need to implement a VIP or loyalty program to spur increased engagement and sales.
(Though this more “official” commitment will likely be quite beneficial once it’s in place.)
But you do need to figure out ways to fit your brand’s products or services into your customers’ lives in a way that gets them to stay loyal.
There are a number of ways to do this:
The more opportunities you provide your customers to engage with your brand, the more invested in your company they’ll become. In turn, they’ll eventually come to always choose your brand over all others—and be more than happy to open their wallets when they do.
Without a doubt, Amazon is one of the most opportunistic companies around.
By that, we mean Amazon never lets a sale slip away.
As noted earlier, Amazon provides a variety of purchase-related options directly on its product pages.
Taking a look at the right side of that screenshot, we have options to:
No matter what your intent for visiting the product page is, Amazon makes your next step crystal clear. With few exceptions, this next step almost always leads the customer closer to making a purchase.
Amazon also works to create opportunities to sell even more to its customers.
Again looking at Amazon’s product pages, the customer is always presented with a variety of upsell and cross-sell offers:
Moving away from the actual website, Amazon also uses email to create similar opportunities for further sales:
It’s pretty simple:
If you see an opportunity to push a sale further along, you need to take it.
This may mean providing personalized product recommendations to your customers at optimal moments, or simply providing them with different options for delivery or fulfillment.
No matter the case, it’s all about proactively seeking out—and even creating—further opportunities to showcase your brand’s value to your customers. If you can make the value of your offer clear—and make it easy for your customer to take the next steps—they’ll have no reason not to move forward in their buyer’s journey.
It’s pretty well-known that Amazon started out as an online bookstore.
But it’s also pretty hard to remember a time when that’s all the company sold.
Today, Amazon offers over 30 different services—and a ton of proprietary products.
(Not to mention all the other companies Amazon owns...)
While certain areas of Amazon certainly bring in more business than others, together they form an absolute force in the eCommerce world:
Needless to say, there’s no way Amazon would be the powerhouse it is today if the company had just stuck to selling books.
Now, the lesson to take from this isn’t just that you need to sell more or more varied products or start offering additional services.
(Such approaches might be right for you, but this isn’t necessarily the case.)
You simply need to offer more of what your customers actually want.
If you really want to ramp up your sales numbers—and you already have a solid customer base—you need to provide additional value to them in some way or another.
This can take your company in a number of different directions, such as:
Amazon’s done all three—and much, much more.
How you decide to evolve depends on the products or services you offer, who your customers are, and the value they look to get from doing business with your brand.
If your customers always have more to gain from giving you their hard-earned cash, they’ll always be willing to do so. In turn, your sales numbers are going to skyrocket.