Takeaways from XP Roundtable: Amazon in Times of Crisis
During Personalization Pioneers' inaugural XP Roundtable, we took an in-depth look at Amazon, eCommerce, and adapting business during times of crisis.
Personalization Pioneers is a global events series focused on helping innovative organizations meet the ever-demanding customer expectations and experience optimization challenges that arise in today’s fast-moving business environment. Below, learn about their inaugural event series, XP Roundtable.
On June 23, Personalization Pioneers hosted its first XP Roundtable event, “Amazon in Times of Crisis,” to discuss the highs and lows of the retail giant’s operations during the peak of COVID-19 in the U.S. (Given the coronavirus outbreak, Pioneers has temporarily postponed in-person events and has instead rolled out a series of virtual programming.) XP Roundtable gathers members from the Personalization Pioneers community – thought leaders, practitioners, C-level executives, and more – to uncover the latest insights in experience optimization and highlight the tools to tackle workflow pain points, refine existing strategies, and shape the future of the customer experience.
During Episode 1, our very own Nathan Richter joined Ekta Chopra of e.l.f. Cosmetics, and Doug Hollinger of BVA, who each shared their thoughts on a variety of topics, including how to adapt to a learning curve in times of crisis, how brands are adjusting to these changes, and how businesses are pushing to stand out in the crowded retail space. Below, check out a recap of the conversation and the key themes covered by these industry leaders.
Adapting to a learning curve is especially challenging during times of crisis
83% of Amazon Prime consumers claim two-day shipping is the most compelling benefit of their membership. This begs the question: has Amazon been able to successfully scale during this challenging period?
According to Doug Hollinger of digital agency BVA, “Amazon actually pivoted relatively quickly in terms of scale and logistics. However, they certainly struggled to keep up with the demand for specific products, such as toilet paper, masks, and cleaning products.”
Although the transparency of shipping times was handled relatively well, there was a point where Amazon was not the cheapest place to shop, which historically has been a major draw for the eCommerce giant. While the company had to learn how to keep up with the demand and better compete on pricing, consumers were eventually pushed to shop directly from retailers and other third-party vendors.
Our VP of Strategy, Nathan Richter, had a similar read on the situation, stating, “Amazon’s challenges have shown an increase in direct traffic to the retailer’s sites, generating more exposure for the brands themselves.” And while the giant has been facing a massive learning curve during the ongoing pandemic, its missteps have presented an opportunity to smaller retailers looking to better position themselves in the eCommerce space, proving they do not need to rely so heavily on the marketplace.
Brands can differentiate themselves to attract new customers
Although unprecedented, these past few months have afforded retailers time to gain clear insights about their consumers, improve their own processes around shipping and response times, tell a captivating story with new brand messaging, and implement new tools such as personalization platforms. “Taking immediate action and using these new learnings and insights, brands were able to react to the current situation in a timely and efficient manner,” says Ekta Chopra, VP of Digital at e.l.f Cosmetics.
Given these new opportunities, the panelists shared their thoughts on how retailers can differentiate themselves in these ever-changing times. “There is a more holistic approach to shopping and consumers are even more educated than they had been previously,” said Richter.
e.l.f Cosmetics has been able to stand out by creating “e.l.f. Cares,” a page that is fully dedicated to what they are doing as a brand to help their own employees, from providing stipends in order to work from home comfortably to organizations they are sending masks and care packages to. Because of this, Ekta cited, “The consumers who converted most were often the ones who saw that page and saw the purpose behind the brand and what we stand for.”
The importance of the next 100 days
The past 100 days have really challenged brands and exposed new learnings, but as we move forward, our panelists foresee some important changes for continued success. “You have to learn about the consumer and [use that information to] actually inform strategy,” states Chopra. Retailers are now making more investments in their own marketing and channels instead of fully investing in third-party sellers, such as Amazon. So as we begin to move forward with the new normal, Hollinger advises organizations to “become more flexible and collaborate on a frequent basis.” He continues: “Collapse the regular organizational silos and forecast week-to-week and month-to-month because past models are now broken.” Chopra’s final piece of advice on how to shape the future? “Take risks, keep them on your radar, and be ready to pivot.”
The final takeaways
2020 has presented consumers and businesses with a plethora of new challenges. Perhaps the most important piece of advice echoed by our panelists is to remain resilient and always have one foot forward. Do not be afraid to make changes, pull back on past ideas and traditions, and think outside of the box to differentiate yourself in this ever-changing eCommerce landscape. Although consumers will continue to spend dollars with eCommerce giants like Amazon, heavily investing and relying on your own internal teams and tools may be the key to success going forward, helping you capture valuable market share.
If you’re interested in learning more about Personalization Pioneers and its future events, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.