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Beat Amazon by nurturing customers

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Retailers who are worried about Amazon’s growing market share might consider behaving more like B-to-B sellers when it comes to building customer relationships.

Though it sounds counter-intuitive, sometimes it pays to take it slow. It was one of the tidbits offered by Episerver Senior Director, Commerce Ed Kennedy when we stopped by to talk to him at NRF’s Big Show. He explains in the brief video interview below.

In our longer conversation, Kennedy noted that businesses selling to other businesses have long recognized the value of engaging and educating potential customers with high-quality content well before they are ready to buy. It’s not as if businesses selling to consumers haven’t recognized the value of producing valuable content to acquire customers and to keep the fans of a brand or store coming back.

Building a killer content strategy isn’t easy

But, Kennedy says, at this stage, there haven’t been all that many retailers that have done a great job at building the kind of content strategy that genuinely engages consumers.

“In other arenas, B-to-B marketing, it’s very common to use content marketing, education and a longer engagement cycle with your customer and know that content is going to play a key role there,” he said. “I think, perhaps, in retail, we’ve just been so myopic and so focused on the transaction and what the merchandising set looks like and what we should use promotions for, to drive sales and hit our numbers, instead of thinking about what creates a meaningful relationship with consumers.”

There are plenty of signs that retailers understand the importance of looking beyond a single transaction and that they are working toward change. Conversion as a metric, for instance, is being supplemented by measures of the quality of the customer experience that retailers are providing.

Customer lifetime value is definitely a focus

More and more, the conversation is around customer lifetime value, essentially a measure of loyalty and mark of customers who return again and again. But Kennedy says many retailers still have a ways to go when it comes to walking the walk around the concept.

“It’s still, ‘Let’s use smarter promotions. Let’s use better merchandising. Let’s address a larger part of the market.’ I’m not saying those things are bad ideas,” Kennedy said. “However, it’s not taking into account how consumers have so much choice and options when they’re out there, when they buy online, and how easy it is to switch to another retailer. You have to build something else, something much more meaningful, that actually is going to build longer, and higher, customer lifetime value.”

It takes time. It takes patience. But in the end, it’s worth the wait.

Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at [email protected].