Shhh! Don’t make any noise. The 800-pound gorilla is distracted. Now is your chance.
I’m talking about the fact that Amazon Prime delivery delays are as long as a month now. Now is your opportunity to serve your customers like never before. Now is the time to make up ground and become a digital force.
But how can you do it quickly? We know it won’t take too long for Amazon to work out its supply chain and delivery logistics and go back to normal.
Here’s a pro tip: start with your best customers. Once you know who your best customers are, figure out what they want, go out and get it, then give it to them. Curveball: you need to do this all virtually.
The good news is tools and technology exist so you can start this today.
In a crisis environment, it’s important to focus relentlessly on your highest value niches. When is the last time you segmented your customers into high-, medium-, and low-value buckets? Chances are your top 10 percent to 20 percent of customers drive 80 percent of your margins (while the bottom 10 percent to 20 percent are probably so unprofitable you're better off “firing” them).
Study your highest value customers — figure out what they're like, what needs you fulfill for them, how they feel toward your brand, what products they typically buy, etc. Then go all-in on this group.
For example, let’s say you’re a home décor retailer and your data reveals that your “whales” — i.e., your highest value niche — are those who regularly purchase candles. They have a high frequency and tend to add other high-margin items to their basket while shopping. They like your brand because it offers a wide selection, and these customers like a little variety in their lives.
Why not start an online candle club and target these high-value customers? You can quickly set up a plan where you send a package of candles to members each month, along with some surprise bonus items and special content. There are several direct-to-consumer fulfillment companies that would be more than happy to help you, if you don’t have internal capabilities. From the IT side, you can launch this in a few hours if you use a tool like Shopify.
(Side note: once proven a success, you can have your internal IT team properly build the online portion of this membership into your IT stack. However, these are times of war, and we need to move fast, so don’t shy away from third-party tools to get ideas launched quickly to see what sticks. Normally I’m not a proponent of “technical debt,” but we need to move swiftly.)
Maybe a subscription box model doesn’t work for your product categories, but here are some other ideas you can roll out ASAP:
- Radically improve customer service standards — ideally for all, but at the very least for your whales. Consider a free “VIP” club for the best of the best with shorter delivery windows, free returns, and priority customer support.
- Supplement your products with related educational videos. For example, if you sell fitness equipment, find an instructor to include a daily workout video online.
- Conduct a product affinity analysis and offer discounts on bundles of products commonly purchased together by your whales.
The bottom line: in this environment, it's going to be much harder to find new customers. Instead, focus on your best existing customers, who already know and love you, then find a way to make them love you more. And you have to move fast before the 800-pound gorilla gets caught up on its backlog.
Rob Ristagno is the CEO of Sterling Woods Group, a consulting firm working with companies to increase sales and sustain growth over time using data science and digital technology.
Rob Ristagno is the founder and CEO of Sterling Woods Group, a consulting firm working with companies to increase sales and sustain growth over time using data science and digital technology.
He focuses on combining data science with sales and marketing strategies to use old data to find new ways to grow clients' businesses. Many of Sterling Woods Group's clients are B2B software companies.