Why are other Internet retailers failing next to Amazon? It’s a good question, and Kim Garretson on the blog Internet Retailer believes he has the answer. The fundamental problem he sees isn’t that those retailers are being defeated by Amazon—they’re being defeated by their own failure to focus on the customer while they chase after tech upgrades and marketing campaigns that customers won’t need or notice.

You only have to look at any product on their websites and the lie is glaringly exposed. That’s because retailers know that up to 99% of visitors to these product pages don’t buy, yet they’re usually offered only one thing to do there ADD TO CART. If they truly put the customer first, they would simply ask non-buying consumers if they could create a relationship with them to assist them on their path to purchase. They’d offer to alert these shoppers on price drops, back-in-stock, new items and reviews, updates on their wish lists, and more.

This sort of thing seems very familiar to me from what I’ve written of one Internet retailer in particular. Barnes & Noble beat Amazon to the punch when it came to color tablets and backlit e-ink readers, but that didn’t help it in the long run. The Nook division has effectively fizzled (helped by odd little decisions like crippling its e-book store’s download functionality), and even its Internet retail efforts are crippled by crazy little things like charging customers full bookstore price rather than the web retail price if items are ordered for a bookstore pickup.

Is putting the customer first really so hard that just doing that—the way Amazon does—is sufficient to confer a huge competitive advantage? Apparently so. If that is the case, it would be nice if some of these other retailers would take a lesson from Amazon, and from Garretson’s essay, and see if they could win some customers back.

(Found via The Passive Voice.)


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