5 Ways to Steal a Page out of Amazon’s Playbook this Holiday Season

November 23, 2018


For those in Commerce (retail and/or e-commerce) and SaaS (end of year renewals), we’re in the final stages of the busiest and most important days of the year as the battle over customer mindshare and wallets is upon us. Your 2018 results are here and you need to end the year strong while setting the table for growth in 2019. While Amazon is the MDE (“most dominant ever” - thanks, Shaq!), there are ways to take a few pages out of their playbook and build a winning sales strategy for this holiday season and beyond.

Here are 5 key insights inspired by Amazon that are working for a few thousand retailers that we've had the pleasure of working with over the past few years.

  1. Draw Inspiration from Amazon Smile: Amazon Smile is Amazon’s program to connect with cause-minded consumers, which nearly all consumers are these days!
As the data shows, from Cone Communications annual report, nearly “87% of consumers purchase a product because that company advocated for an issue they cared about.” For those in SaaS, the majority of your buyers today are Millennials, the most cause-oriented demographic ever, so the same logic applies.
How do you start? Pick a cause that will resonate with your audience deeply, is aligned with your product and service, and to which your company can make a meaningful commitment. Amazon Smile only donates 0.5% of sales to a nonprofit of your choice on select products, a small commitment that most brands on their own can compete with. Does Amazon win in eyewear versus Warby Parker and their commitment to providing the gift of sight, which has impacted 4 million people? No, Warby Parker’s customer loyalty, in addition to some of their other key innovations (compelling price, vertical integration, etc.) is why Warby Parker is a unicorn and continues to grow its market share with its meaningful and clear commitment to impact.

2. Show your Impact to Strengthen Customer Loyalty: When your brand actually makes a meaningful impact on the world, that story far more powerful than the standard sales email. Look at how one of our partners, This Bar Saves Lives, shows a clear impact with every purchase - over 10MM life-saving food packets provided to children suffering from severe malnutrition.
Want to see more quantified impacts? Check out my company Pledgeling’s impact calculators that your brand can integrate with here. At Pledgeling, we work with approximately 2,500 merchants across B2C and B2B customer segments and we’ve seen that brands that demonstrate real-time and quantifiable impact can increase customer loyalty by up to 50%Yes, 50%!

3. Play the Long Game:  Amazon’s history of rapid innovation, mantra “Today is Day 1” and focus on the long-term has helped it to become one of the world’s most valuable companies.

“I don’t think that you can invent on behalf of customers unless you’re willing to think long-term, because a lot of invention doesn’t work. If you’re going to invent, it means you’re going to experiment, and if you’re going to experiment, you’re going to fail, and if you’re going to fail, you have to think long term. (Jeff Bezos)”
While it's easy to get caught up in holiday (BFCM) promotions, Q4 is also a great time to think long-term, create your 2019-2020 plans and use this holiday season as a way to test them in the market as these insights can serve as a catalyst for the New Year. As Wayne Gretzky once aptly put it “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

4. Convert, Convert & Convert: Amazon pioneered one-click buying, but now you can take a page from their playbook in driving conversion once you have a customer on your site, in your sales funnel, or in your store. Fortunately, over 250 million consumers are using Apple Pay, which makes one-click, or one thumbprint, buying accessible online and offline. When Red Cross launched Apple Pay for charitable donations without any advance notice to their donors, over 30% used it by default. If your checkout process requires lots of data entry, remember that every piece of information that you ask for on mobile during the checkout flow will decrease conversion by 10%. Remember to keep your online checkout, or renewal forms, simple, mobile-optimized and utilize Apple Pay, if at all possible!

5. Mobile (Platforms) are Everything: ‘Mobile optimized’ was 2016, ‘mobile first’ was 2017 and heading into 2019, mobile platforms are everything. Why did Amazon buy Twitch, why is the Treasure Truck texting you deals when they are in your neighborhood and why is a retailer like Apple creating original content for your consumption on mobile? They want to be everywhere you are on mobile, either engaging with you across the top mobile platforms and/or keeping you within the Amazon mobile ecosystem on the one device that most consumers look at 150 times per day!  If you are not truly delivering an amazing and compelling mobile experience to your customers, your company won’t be relevant for much longer. Think about how your brand is taking advantage of Instagram and its new features to enable shopping, focus on how you are communicating with your customers using mobile messaging (SMS, MMS, RCS, Facebook Messenger, WeChat) and what content you are creating and delivering to keep them engaged and a part of your brand story on their first screen. Mobile is the place where your brand may win or lose your customers’ near-term purchases, but more importantly, long-term attention and loyalty.

If your company needs help on points #1 or #2, shoot us a note to impact@Pledgeling.com and we’d be happy to help you learn how your business can grow through giving.