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How to outflank Amazon with brand experience

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Yes, Ed Kennedy, of Episerver, knows that Amazon was a retail industry leader in the use of artificial intelligence.

As senior director of commerce for a company that works at the three-way intersection of content, commerce and customer experience, he has more than a passing interest in how ecommerce got to where it is today. But he also knows where ecommerce is going, which is how he got to talking about how AI is now a vital tool for ecommerce enterprises working to differentiate themselves from Amazon.

He shares those thoughts in the video interview below.

To boil down Kennedy’s point: Good luck trying to beat Amazon on price and selection. He points out that the way for retailers not named Amazon to win, is to seize on a third piece of the ecommerce puzzle: brand experience. In an era when consumers can get pretty much anything almost immediately, finding a way to build a memorable shopping experience is more valuable that ever.

Retailers build digital relationships

Back in the day when shoppers exclusively visited stores, retailers could create a human connection. They could get to know their customers by sight, by preferred style, by whether they were a bargain hunter or a spendthrift. Today that relationship has to be built largely through digital means.

And as Kennedy pointed out in our longer conversation, there is plenty of digital information to help retailers understand their customers.

“As you start to track all of this customer data,” Kennedy told me, “You can do more with it than just product recommendations. You can start recommending different promotions, different content, banners. You can start testing different experiences that go beyond just product recommendations.”

It is probably one of the most influential lessons of the Amazon era and retailers are embracing it. Consider the rise of the digitally native retailer. Their bias is digital first. They crave information and rely on a team of technology vendors that use data to anticipate what type of shopper a consumer is and what that sort of consumer’s preference would be. They build strong ties with consumers through storytelling and compelling products.

They eliminate friction from the buying experience by working behind the scenes with breathtaking speed. What needs to happen from a consumer’s perspective — from search, to recommendations, to relevant content, to curation, to fraud review, to fulfillment, to customer support — just happens.

And while customers don’t necessarily focus on each and every step of that buying process, they do get a sense that everything went exceedingly well and that they accomplished what they wanted to accomplish. And beyond that, they realize they’d like to try that again some time.

Boiled down to its essence, that is the power of brand experience in the age of Amazon.

Photo courtesy of Amazon

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].