The Amazon Customer Journey: Leading The Way For Consumer-Centric Ecommerce

How Ama­zon pro­vides cus­tomer-cen­tric moments at every stage of con­sumer pur­chase jour­neys.

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Ama­zon is one of the most rec­og­niz­able brands and ecom­merce retail­ers in the world. Reknowned for their cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty, we take a clos­er look at what a typ­i­cal con­sumer jour­ney looks like for the retail­er, from con­sid­er­a­tion to pur­chase.


Amazon: Setting The Benchmark For Customer-Centricity

As one of the great suc­cess­es of the dot-com bub­ble, there are many sto­ries about how Ama­zon came to be the brand they are today.

For instance, there’s the one about how founder Jeff Bezos was so eager to start his new ven­ture that when he loaded the removals truck, hav­ing just resigned from a well-pay­ing job at a New York hedge fund, he told the dri­ver to “head West,” telling him he would fly ahead and for­ward over an exact address lat­er.

Then there is the sto­ry about the fact that the com­pa­ny, as wide­ly report­ed in the lat­ter half of last year, is yet to turn over the kind of prof­it that would be expect­ed for a busi­ness of their size, instead choos­ing to rein­vest earn­ings into fur­ther grow­ing sales and invest­ments.

The “?” Elevation

Per­haps the sto­ry that real­ly defines the company’s iden­ti­ty, and com­mit­ment to the high­est lev­els of cus­tomer ser­vice, are the brand’s noto­ri­ous ele­va­tions. Now a noto­ri­ous anec­dote of dot-com cul­ture, the sto­ry has it that Bezos, who has long main­tained a pub­lic email address, [email protected], would for­ward cus­tomer com­plaint emails with a sin­gle ‘?’ in the email body, to an offend­ing depart­ment.

These emails are treat­ed with the high­est pri­or­i­ty (Bezos is known to take a keen inter­est in cus­tomer com­plaint issues) and the sto­ry is a great exam­ple of how the brand ensures a con­sumer voice inside the com­pa­ny.

Brand Profile: Amazon

  • Glob­al ecom­merce and tech­nol­o­gy giant.
  • Com­plete, and near unpar­al­leled range of con­sumer goods.
  • A key strength of the brand is their rep­u­ta­tion for excep­tion­al cus­tomer ser­vice. The brand prides itself on their class-lead­ing logis­tics, which enables them to pro­vide both cos­mopoli­tan areas, or remote regions, with the same lev­el of ser­vice.
  • The brand have built up a strong rep­u­ta­tion. In 2014, the brand topped YouGov’s Glob­al Rank­ing of brand sen­ti­ment, with mar­ket­ing expert Bryan Eisen­berg call­ing them “the Earth’s most cus­tomer-cen­tric com­pa­ny.” The same year, Inter­brand named Ama­zon as the 15th most valu­able brand in the world.

In recent years, the brand have expand­ed from their tra­di­tion­al strong­hold in ecom­merce, to web ser­vices and con­sumer tech­nol­o­gy:

  • Begin­ning with the huge­ly suc­cess­ful Kin­dle e-Read­er, the brand have since released the Fire tablet, Fire TV stick, and most recent­ly Ama­zon Echo – the voice acti­vat­ed com­put­er which has been described as some­where between “a use­ful gad­get and a mem­ber of the fam­i­ly.”

 

  • The trump card in the Amazon’s deck is Ama­zon Web Ser­vices. Launched in 2006 and now oper­at­ing 1.4 mil­lion servers across the world, the firm was recent­ly described by Ama­zon founder Jeff Bezos as “a $5 bil­lion busi­ness and still grow­ing fast.” Dan Kurnos, an ana­lyst at the Bench­mark Com­pa­ny, told the BBC, that AWS “was sur­pris­ing­ly more prof­itable than fore­cast.”
  • Com­peti­tors: Aliba­ba, Rakuten, Asos.com, and count­less more ecom­merce providers in var­i­ous ter­ri­to­ries, with var­i­ous nich­es. Apple, eBay, Google, Microsoft, Sam­sung, Rack­space, IBM, VMware (tech­nol­o­gy and cloud com­put­ing ser­vices).

The Amazon Customer Journey

It’s wide­ly under­stood that on Ama­zon, con­sumers can get just about any­thing. From obscure one-off pur­chas­es, to com­mon every­day items. Over time the retail­er have also built up an incred­i­ble rep­u­ta­tion amongst con­sumers which has cement­ed what cus­tomers expect from both the brand them­selves, and online retails in gen­er­al.

Ama­zon have achieved the envi­able feat of build­ing a strong rep­u­ta­tion amongst audi­ences across many ter­ri­to­ries and across diverse age groups. A 2014 report put togeth­er by Har­ris Poll ranked Ama­zon as the num­ber one brand in the world by rep­u­ta­tion.

In gen­er­al, the brand comes across extreme­ly well in terms of cus­tomer expec­ta­tions. It’s fair to say that with Ama­zon cus­tomers can rea­son­ably expect prices to be com­pet­i­tive, for deliv­ery to be swift, and for a fair and has­sle free returns pro­ce­dure should there need to be.

By all accounts, the brand is accept­ed by con­sumers and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing ana­lysts alike to be a par­a­digm of cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty and excel­lence.

But how well exact­ly? In the sec­ond of our arti­cles ana­lyz­ing the cus­tomer jour­ney from con­sid­er­a­tion to check­out, fol­low­ing our eval­u­a­tion of the Argos cus­tomer Jour­ney ear­li­er this year, we put the ecom­merce giant to the test.

How well does Ama­zon pro­vide for dig­i­tal cus­tomers in search of an elec­tric tooth­brush?

Be Considered

As touched upon pre­vi­ous­ly, Ama­zon have built up a tremen­dous rep­u­ta­tion among con­sumers. Espe­cial­ly in West­ern mar­kets, Ama­zon is viewed as a por­tal from which con­sumers can access the infor­ma­tion about prod­ucts that they are inter­est­ed in pur­chas­ing.

As Google data indi­cates, “Ama­zon” is the most pop­u­lar retail search term in the U.S.

While oth­er retail­ers may rely on chan­nels such and social media, or organ­ic search to put them­selves into con­sid­er­a­tion, Ama­zon shows that a brand that tru­ly com­mits to build­ing pos­i­tive brand sen­ti­ment and rep­u­ta­tion can end up lead­ing the race, gain­ing a posi­tion in their space which puts them at the “top of mind” for con­sumers.

It is a unique and envi­able posi­tion among retail­ers, and one which can only be occu­pied by mar­ket lead­ers. They do have com­pe­ti­tion in var­i­ous nich­es – con­sumers may search oth­er brand­ed terms when in search of goods in var­i­ous nich­es, but Amazon’s incred­i­ble achieve­ment has been to dom­i­nate “top of mind aware­ness” across a vast range of cat­e­gories.

Con­sumers land­ing on the Ama­zon home­page will be met with a geo-spe­cif­ic ver­sion of the site, and thus, for many the Ama­zon search bar will be the start­ing point for the pur­chase jour­neys they will under­take.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 21.32.48

Organic Search & Paid Search

While much of Amazon’s traf­fic will come direct­ly from brand­ed search terms, that’s not to say that the brand doesn’t have a strong pres­ence in organ­ic search.

As you can see, Ama­zon has an extreme­ly strong above-the-fold pres­ence for the typ­i­cal search term “elec­tric tooth­brush”, with both paid and organ­ic search results rank­ing high­ly. Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 16.48.25

A unique fea­ture of Ama­zon search results in Google is that the pages that rank link direct­ly to pop­u­lar prod­uct pages, as opposed to com­peti­tors who link to ded­i­cat­ed cat­e­go­ry pages. The organ­ic search results for exam­ple, links to the Philips Soni­care prod­uct which has more than 4,000 reviews. This is in line with Amazon’s belief in sim­pli­fy­ing the num­ber of steps a con­sumer has to nav­i­gate to check­out.

Too Big For Google Shopping?

While many find it nec­es­sary to invest in Google Shop­ping results, Ama­zon is in a unique posi­tion among retail­ers in that their own search func­tion­al­i­ty is as pop­u­lar among con­sumers.

A search of sev­er­al typ­i­cal prod­ucts reveals that Ama­zon results don’t fea­ture in Google Shop­ping results. While their absence rep­re­sents a hit to their search vis­i­bil­i­ty on Google, how­ev­er the brand is rep­utable enough that the brand’s absence would be notable enough to lead con­sumers to Ama­zon direct­ly when com­par­ing prod­ucts.

Ama­zon seems to instead rely on paid and organ­ic vis­i­bil­i­ty in the search engine, and the brand have a small amount of invest­ment on the Google shop­ping results in the form of paid adver­tis­ing for the pop­u­lar search mod­i­fi­er “best elec­tric tooth­brush”.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 17.52.06

Be Evaluated

Amazon’s own domain is where their main asset, an excep­tion­al user expe­ri­ence, comes to the fore.

Search­ing for “elec­tric tooth­brush” via the Ama­zon search engine reveals thou­sands of prod­uct results, ranked by rel­e­vance, which evi­dent­ly is heav­i­ly influ­enced by pop­u­lar­i­ty.

Prod­ucts have clear title descrip­tions, clear prices, and addi­tion­al buy­ing options, which opens up the retail­ers net­work of third-par­ty sell­ers in Ama­zon Mar­ket­place.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 17.58.56

Incred­i­bly impor­tant to the Ama­zon user expe­ri­ence is the promi­nent use of user reviews. Ama­zon was an ear­ly adopter and pio­neer of user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent and reviews, and every prod­uct list­ed on the site is linked to ded­i­cat­ed cus­tomer reviews, which have become a go-to source for con­sumers every­where.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 18.23.53

Amazon’s review sys­tem has become an incred­i­ble resource for user-gen­er­at­ed reviews, which stud­ies have shown elic­it high­er lev­els of trust espe­cial­ly among mil­len­ni­als.

Site Design & Experience

Ama­zon prod­uct pages have become a tri­umph of util­i­ty and effi­cient design.

To begin with, the ini­tial above-the-fold prod­uct page is clean, clear, and con­tains plen­ty of neg­a­tive space, which accom­mo­dates the basic need con­sumers have to view images of the prod­uct, as well as the price and col­or options.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 18.23.01

On the right hand side, items can be added to bas­ket via a sin­gle click, and for cus­tomers who have enabled 1-Click order­ing, they can com­plete a pur­chase almost instan­ta­neous­ly.

1-Click rep­re­sents one of the fastest and most stream­lined means for con­sumer to pur­chase a prod­uct online, should they wish to.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 18.18.11

Scrolling down the page, cus­tomers are pre­sent­ed with a rich source of fur­ther prod­uct con­tent. Ama­zon secures an oppor­tu­ni­ty to upsell via the “Fre­quent­ly Bought Togeth­er” sec­tion, which in this case offers replace­able heads for the elec­tric tooth­brush.

The prod­uct descrip­tion is a rich source of infor­ma­tion and con­tains man­u­fac­tur­er con­tent about the prod­uct con­sumers may be seek­ing out, to com­pare or fur­ther eval­u­ate a prod­uct.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 18.23.26

A rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly added fea­ture: “Cus­tomer Ques­tions and Answers” enables users to ful­fill an extreme­ly use­ful touch­point for con­sumers. Enabling con­sumers to par­tic­i­pate in ques­tions and answers allows Ama­zon to lever­age their huge cus­tomer base to achieve the scale they need to pro­vide infor­ma­tive answers for the mil­lions of prod­ucts in their ecosys­tem.

Mobile

The Ama­zon mobile expe­ri­ence offers class-lead­ing speed and func­tion­al­i­ty for con­sumers. The app offers syn­chro­nized bas­kets from pre­vi­ous desk­top ses­sions, and vice ver­sa, per­form­ing the admirable feat of con­nect­ing user jour­neys between devices.

Amazon Image

Equal­ly, and more on this in a moment, Amazon’s huge­ly effec­tive track­ing of search his­to­ry allows them to offer an incred­i­ble lev­el of per­son­al­iza­tion in dis­played pages.

If a user views a prod­uct on a logged-in desk­top, they can ful­ly expect to see the same or sim­i­lar prod­uct promi­nent­ly in their mobile app. If they want to pur­chase a prod­uct they were research­ing pre­vi­ous­ly, they could do this via the retail­ers app in just a few clicks.

Ecosystem & Personalization

While ease and avail­abil­i­ty of the check­out sys­tem may sound like a sim­ple con­cept, it is the result of the brand’s huge rep­e­ti­tion­al assets which results in the user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent and col­lec­tive endorse­ment of prod­ucts that allow con­sumers to ful­fill all the nec­es­sary touch­points for pur­chase with­in the Ama­zon buy­ing ecosys­tem.

This is the area in which Ama­zon real­ly excels. The con­cept of a self-con­tained ecosys­tem which pro­vides for all user needs, con­nect­ing up the dif­fer­ent moments in the user jour­ney, and antic­i­pat­ing what con­sumers are look­ing for.

The rec­om­mend­ed prod­ucts are a per­fect exam­ple of this. Have a look at just how per­son­al­ized the Ama­zon site expe­ri­ence can be, based on pre­vi­ous search­es and queries:

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 18.23.13

From expe­ri­ence, after a prod­uct is pur­chase, the promi­nence of these dis­plays is often toned down as the brand rec­og­nizes that the prod­uct no longer rep­re­sents a need for that con­sumer.

Be Purchased

The fact that we have already touched on pur­chas­ing prod­uct sev­er­al times in this arti­cle, in 1-Click, buy­ing options, and mobile app pur­chas­es, is a tes­ta­ment to just how well inte­grat­ed Amazon’s check­out sys­tem is to their over­all site expe­ri­ence.

The many fea­tures dis­cussed in this arti­cle essen­tial­ly enable con­sumers to research and eval­u­ate prod­ucts, and if and when they make the deci­sion to pur­chase, Amazon’s check out sys­tem is only a few clicks away from any point in that jour­ney.

For con­sumers who decide to pur­chase, a fac­tor in their deci­sion mak­ing may have Amazon’s excel­lent deliv­ery pro­vi­sions, which lever­ages the brand’s incred­i­ble logis­tics.

A high­light of this ser­vice is Ama­zon Prime. A sub­scrip­tion to Prime offers guar­an­teed next day deliv­ery for any prod­uct dis­patched from an Ama­zon Ware­house. Cost­ing $99 per year, the ser­vice also includes access to Prime Video, the brand’s stream­ing ser­vice and answer to Net­flix.

A lit­tle report­ed ben­e­fit, but one that falls in line with the brand’s cus­tomer-cen­tric prin­ci­ples is that if a prod­uct is reduced in price with­in 30 days of a pur­chase, Ama­zon will refund the dif­fer­ence. Such prac­tices are a great way to move con­sumers from a mind­set of pur­chase, to a mind­set of brand loy­al­ty.

Create Awareness & Build Loyalty

Ama­zon is a valu­able brand, and as such they can rely on estab­lished audi­ences and glob­al rep­u­ta­tion in con­tin­u­ing to win cus­tomers. How­ev­er that isn’t to say that they’re not par­tial the occa­sion­al viral video or social media cam­paign.

Cap­tur­ing the excite­ment and instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion of online deliv­ery, it is some­what rem­i­nis­cent of recent sim­i­lar adver­tise­ments from the likes of UK ecom­merce retail­er Argos. One of the retailer’s most suc­cess­ful cam­paigns in recent years has been their unveil­ing of the con­cept of Ama­zon Prime Air.

Some may be skep­ti­cal, but like Google’s dri­ver­less cars, deliv­ery drones are a tes­ta­ment the tech com­pa­nies vision and ambi­tion in the field of cus­tomer-cen­tric inno­va­tion. More than any­thing else, this rep­re­sents the brand’s iden­ti­ty in the minds of con­sumers.

Seasonal Events: Black Friday/Cyber Monday

Final­ly, any study of the Ama­zon con­sumer jour­ney would not be com­plete with­out men­tion­ing the retailer’s annu­al sales extrav­a­gan­za: Black Fri­day – and increas­ing­ly now, Cyber Mon­day.

Arguably, Ama­zon have been a key dri­ver for the growth of the event into the enor­mous­ly pop­u­lar shop­ping event it is today. The event con­tin­ues to grow year-on-year, and in some ter­ri­to­ries such as the UK, Amazon’s flash sales and light­ning deals, that see entic­ing time, and stock lim­it­ed dis­counts, have bro­ken sales records for the brand.

Such growth indi­cates that the ecom­merce retail­er has every rea­son to believe that their strat­e­gy to invest heav­i­ly in fur­ther growth could be an astute one.

Key Moments

  • High­ly pos­i­tive brand sen­ti­ment, rep­u­ta­tion, and trust among con­sumers, with the brand top­ping ana­lysts rank­ings for cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty and cus­tomer ser­vice.
  • Promi­nent vis­i­bil­i­ty in organ­ic and paid search results, for an unpar­al­leled range of prod­ucts, pulling in users under the umbrel­la of the brand’s user jour­ney.
  • Enclosed ecosys­tem once con­sumers are with­in the Ama­zon site expe­ri­ence, ful­fill­ing mul­ti­ple infor­ma­tion­al, and review-based touch­points.
  • Com­pre­hen­sive avail­abil­i­ty; mil­lions of avail­able prod­ucts; a net­work of third-par­ty sell­ers; and unmatched ful­fill­ment pro­vi­sions for both met­ro­pol­i­tan hubs and remote regions.
  • Incred­i­ble sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of the path to pur­chase. Cus­tomer are able to pur­chase prod­ucts with as lit­tle as one click.
  • Class-lead­ing review sys­tem and user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent. Ama­zon reviews have become a valu­able resource for con­sumers every­where look­ing to eval­u­ate poten­tial pur­chas­es.
  • A rep­u­ta­tion for cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty and ser­vice, cement­ed into the minds of con­sumers all over the world.

Final Thoughts

With­out want­i­ng to labor the point, the stand­out fac­tor that uni­fies all of Amazon’s activ­i­ties is their unfal­ter­ing com­mit­ment to cus­tomer-cen­tric prin­ci­ples. The brand’s suc­cess is a tes­ta­ment to what can be achieved when a brand com­mits to a strat­e­gy designed around pos­i­tive rep­u­ta­tion and brand sen­ti­ment, built on series of sat­is­fac­to­ry moments, that in the end, puts their brand, and their ser­vices at the top of a consumer’s mind.

In many cas­es, con­sumers can have full con­fi­dence that when they buy a well-reviewed prod­uct on Ama­zon, they are not only get­ting great val­ue, but great ser­vice. With that lev­el of trust, the con­sumer jour­ney can be sim­pli­fied to a few mere steps.

While this arti­cle isn’t intend­ed to be a com­pre­hen­sive analy­sis of con­sumers’ online pur­chase jour­neys, it pro­vides a win­dow into the many ele­ments that com­pose the Ama­zon cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. And in the eyes of many, Ama­zon tru­ly are the lead­ers in cus­tomer-cen­tric online com­merce.


What do you think of Amazon’s con­sumer jour­ney?

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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