Recently, Amazon announced the creation of its “Operations Center of Excellence” right here in my hometown of Nashville. This $230 million investment will focus on improvements and innovation in customer fulfillment, transportation, supply chain, and related functions. Its footprint will be evident as the behemoth covers a million square feet and employs 5,000 people.
Since its incorporation in 1994, Amazon has exponentially exploded and its growth doesn’t seem to be slowing down. What was once a one-man garage operation has grown into an Internet juggernaut, surpassing Walmart last year as the world’s largest retailer.
So, how can we translate what Amazon has done and model it in our own industries? What can trade show marketers learn from Amazon’s success? Well, believe it or not, quite a lot. Here are just a few things that the e-commerce giant is achieving that any business of any size can emulate.
Identify New Market Opportunities
As new competitors come on the scene and the landscape changes in the retail world, are you quick to adapt? Are you constantly looking for new and better ways to serve your existing built-in base of customers? Amazon is. Take AmazonFresh, for example. Once the retail giant realized grocery delivery was growing in popularity, it was a no-brainer to move into that niche market. Their customers, who already depended on Amazon for everything from books to toys to household items, were primed to let them satisfy their grocery needs, too..
Focus on the Customer
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once mentioned that at the center of their massive operation is customer centricity, that they put “the customer at the center of everything [we] do.” And it shows. From one-click ordering to one-day delivery to no-questions-asked returns, Amazon is stockpiling satisfied repeat customers.
Take a look at your own marketing initiatives and consider what is at the center – your ease-of-use or your customers’ needs. Really take to heart the maxim that “there is no substitute for a great customer experience” and ask yourself if there are ways your company could simplify the ordering process, take advantage of personalized marketing more fully, or provide more of what customers are looking for. Going above and beyond for your clients will pay off in the long term, as customer loyalty reaps great dividends.
Don't Follow the Crowd
Whenever a company really knocks it out of the park in the retail world or a trade show trend demonstrates that it has staying power, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. Even Amazon has fallen for it. Amazon’s most notable failures have been when they tried to provide services that emulate eBay or DoorDash or TicketMaster. However, the big idea that it’s known best for is low prices. Bezos has explained that “percentage margins are not one of the things [I am] seeking to optimize.” WHAT?! Who says that? What he means is that he’s willing to sacrifice short-term profits for long-term success. This is just one way of ditching the bandwagon and blazing your own trail. Your company would do well to follow this model and figure out what it does best and just do it. Instead of throwing darts and hoping something sticks, capitalize on your own company’s strengths by showcasing them well.
When asked what he made, Bezos one time responded, “. . . billions of dollars of failures.” Everyone laughed, but the message is clear: to be successful, you have to keep experimenting and trying new things, all of which come as a risk. And even Amazon takes risks in a smart way. As marketers, we depend on our core customers and bread-and-butter trade show events, but what if you took 20% of your budget and risked a wild experiment – a virtual event, a swanky private party, an exhibit at a new, edgier trade show. Or what if you experimented with a lower-performing trade show and completely revamped your presence there.
Amazon’s reputation as an innovator has everything to do with the chances they took, despite the failures. They explored opportunities and ideas outside of their wheelhouse. Encourage your company to take the same leaps to stay ahead of the competition..
Think Ahead, Way Ahead
“If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. But being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.” Bezos hit the nail on the head. Focus on the things that will not change – the customers. Technology will change and there’s no way to predict it. Competition will change and there’s no way to compensate for it. The customers, however, want the same things they’ve always wanted: great choices, low prices, and fast turnaround. So as you invest in capital equipment, new booth designs, or the latest CRM software, make sure the underlying focus of these investments is to bolster the things that will never change among your audience.
Your company might not be on its way to becoming the next Internet Goliath, but there’s plenty to learn from a company like Amazon, who is always on the edge of innovation and has an unwavering dedication to its customers.!