How L.L. Bean, Amazon and Nordstrom Create Positive Service Experiences
For online retailers, a positive service experience relates to a consumer’s ability to quickly find a suitable product; the accurate portrayal of goods in terms of features, colors and sizes; a speedy website; and how quickly questions about a product are answered. Let’s look at how L.L.Bean, Amazon.com and Nordstrom have optimized their customers’ web-based service experiences.
L.L.Bean constantly works to get its online images more accurate so that shoppers better understand an item’s true color, texture and fit. In 2008, L.L.Bean added ratings and reviews to its product pages. This feature not only adds value for its customers, but also for the retailer’s designers and merchandisers who read the reviews to obtain customer feedback regarding fit and performance attributes.
In the fall of last year, L.L.Bean incorporated a “click and call” component to its website that prompts its call-center personnel to call back any online shopper who desires additional information within two minutes of the shopper’s inquiry.
Amazon personalizes its shopping experience via computer algorithms for each consumer based on his or her previous purchases and searches. As a result of its highly targeted offerings, Amazon's clickthrough and conversion rates are far greater than untargeted web advertising.
To facilitate consumers’ search process, Amazon recently added Amazon Remembers for BlackBerry users. This application helps consumers keep track of products they see. The app matches photos taken by a consumer on their Blackberry to products available on Amazon.com. Amazon Remembers automatically uploads the product-based photos, sends the matched results to the consumer, and then enables that consumer to either purchase the item or "remember it" for a future purchase.
Recognizing that the checkout process is where a lot of consumers drop out, Amazon.com has become a pioneer in tackling the problem of abandoned carts by offering a one-click checkout alternative. Also recognizing that high shipping costs are a critical factor in shoppers dropping out of the checkout process, Amazon offers unlimited two-day shipping for an annual fee of $79. Customers that sign up for the unlimited two-day shipping option constitute Amazon’s best customers in terms of loyalty, average sales and profits.
Nordstrom has made its website appealing by adding “Design to Inspire” videos. These videos feature designers discussing a specific style, their design inspiration, occasions that styles are most appropriate for and how different styles can be accessorized. For example, in a video series featuring Michelle Smith, the designer of the popular Milly line, Smith offers suggestions for wearing the same dress at work as well as out of the office.
Nordstrom also added RSS feeds to its site in 2007. Shoppers of the apparel retailer can be automatically alerted when a new product they're interested in is added to Nordstrom’s online store. For example, a shopper interested in Seven jeans can click on the Fashion Feed button on Nordstrom.com. Any time a new product is added to the site that matches this search, the consumer will automatically be sent an email. After opening the email, the shopper is taken directly to the appropriate new product web page.
Barry Berman, Ph.D., is author of Competing in Tough Times: Business Lessons from L.L.Bean, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and Other World-Class Retailers (Financial Times Press, 2011). Barry can be reached at email@example.com.