Every retail brand understands the e-commerce impact of Amazon Prime and its residual effect on brick-and-mortar locations. Prime satisfies the convenience factor today’s customers are craving — they prefer shopping from their couch over driving to your store. And with Prime membership growing at a rapid rate and more retailers closing their doors, it may feel like the future of brick-and-mortar is bleak. But we have hope.
We turned to SMG’s market intelligence tool BrandGeek® to look at foot traffic and customer experience (CX) metrics across apparel, department store and mass merchandiser segments. We wanted to understand the behaviors of Prime customers when they do get off their couch and walk into your store. And we found some promising data points.
Yes, Amazon Prime shoppers have higher expectations and are less satisfied with their in-store visits. On average, overall satisfaction scores are 4 points lower for Prime members than non-Prime members. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth it. These customers are important to the success of brick-and-mortar retailers — it just may take a little more effort to win them over. Here are three tips on how:
1. Make store layouts consistent across your brand (and foolproof).
Prime members are more prone to impulse buying during in-store visits. When compared to non-Prime members, they're 3 percent to 5 percent more likely to purchase more than intended. They may visit you for a specific reason, but our research shows once they’re in your store, they’re willing to go off-script and pick up extra items. Therefore, make sure they can find what they’re looking for, stick around and buy more.
Prime customers aren’t necessarily loyal to one brand. Because they make less store visits on average, they may not know your store layout as well. They may be quicker to get frustrated, impatient and give up their search altogether. Remember, these customers are used to typing in “black socks” and instantly having dozens of options at their fingertips.
Your store doesn’t have that search feature, but chances are it can be more customer friendly. Along with keeping a consistent layout across your brand — i.e., each location mirrors the others — provide clear, descriptive signage or search kiosks so customers can more easily navigate your aisles. If they can’t find it, they’ll walk out the door and go elsewhere.
2. Fill your store with an engaged staff.
As mentioned, Prime customers have greater expectations and are looking for a higher service model. Our demographic data shows these customers are also more affluent shoppers, willing to pay that $119 annual Prime membership fee for the sake of convenience. To win them over, make sure your staff is just as helpful and knowledgeable as Amazon’s search bar and star ratings.
Drive employee engagement and foster a community of happy, helpful team members. That may seem like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to overlook the importance of staff empowerment. Your team needs to be more than employees; they need to be brand ambassadors. Our research consistently shows a direct link between employee engagement, customer satisfaction and sales performance.
3. Keep shelves full — with multiple options.
Prime customers are targeted shoppers that want to make a purchase. When two-day shipping isn’t good enough, they need what they need now. Contrary to popular belief that Prime shoppers frequently use in-store visits to showroom products before purchasing on Amazon, our research shows they're there to buy. In fact, Prime customers are 2 percent to 3 percent less likely than non-Prime customers to browse with no intention to buy.
So if what they need is out of stock at your store, not only will they move along to a competitor, they probably won’t consider you first for their next visit. The good news is that if you do impress them, they’ll likely return. Prime members are 6 percent more likely than non-Prime shoppers to cite previous positive experiences as the primary reason for visiting a brand’s location.
Staying Competitive in the Convenience Economy
Amazon isn’t going anywhere. It’s just going to keep growing and evolving, looking for ways to fill in gaps, secure more customers and expand its market. The best way to compete is to deliver an exceptional customer experience — across all channels — to drive customer loyalty and positively impact your bottom line.
Paul Tiedt is the vice president of client insights at Service Management Group (SMG), a software company that provides customer experience management, employee experience and brand research solutions.