There are many ways to mark the massive shift to digital that’s happened in the past six months, from baby boomers who’ve moved online after favoring real-world shopping to merchants who’ve made a hard shift toward digital and omnichannel. But the challenge for retailers now is deciding what to do next, Amazon Pay Chief Marketing Officer Kelly Wenzel told Karen Webster in a recent conversation. After all, no one could have predicted where we are today — and no one is quite sure where we’re going next.
Wenzel told Webster that what retailers need to think about is those things that actually aren’t going to change in an environment where it feels like everything is changing. For instance, she said customers will always want good prices, selection and convenience when they shop. And they’ll want to feel safe in a trusted, familiar environment when they check out.
“I actually think this is an awesome opportunity,” Wenzel said. “I would say any time you’re faced with adversity, there are two ways to possibly respond. You can get pushed onto your back foot, or you can ask yourself a really simple question, which is: ‘How does this serve me?’”
When retailers are thinking about how to adjust, she said, the first step is finding new ways to lean into those tried-and-true classics of creating the right customer experience. After all, Wenzel noted, that while the commerce ecosystem has changed radically, the essentials of what retailers must do remains the same.
“We’re all facing adversity right now — retailers probably more than any other sector — but I think you can flip the frame on that and see a real opportunity here to reinvest [and] reimagine the customer journey,” Wenzel said. “It’s a chance to really widen the aperture.”
What does widening the aperture look like? According to Wenzel, it all starts with building trust.
Building A Trusted Experience In Risky Times
Wenzel said that when Amazon surveys customers, trust is the critical element to actually making a sale happen — more than price or selection, and cutting across all demographic groups.
But in a COVID-19 era, she said, retailers are figuring out how to build trusted online relationships that lead to repeat business in the absence of the direct physical interaction they’ve relied on in the past.
“Customers may want to buy your product, but what they really want is to connect with you and your purpose,” Wenzel said. “I think in this environment, human beings are craving connection more than ever before.”
Part of building that trust, she said, is telling the customer a story about the product beyond merely offering it — how it was made and how it traveled to their front doors. Or, merchants should explain their sites’ security measures — why companies are asking consumers to provide certain information and how firms will (and will not) use it.
Wenzel said retailers have a very difficult job these days in that they have to eliminate friction and make the shopping experience seamless, but must also keep customer safe and secure. Balancing those needs means telling customers at all times not just details of what they’re buying, but also the how and why of policies in place to protect them.
She said this has been critical to Amazon Pay’s success as a payment solution for merchants selling off Amazon.com. She said a “trust halo” that surrounds the payment product often acts as a boost for other brands.
“What we’re providing is that very familiar, trusted, safe checkout experience,” Wenzel said. “It’s predictable. [Customers] know what to expect, they know what they’re going to get.”
But while all of that is critical, she said it’s still just a start given that checkout isn’t everything in eCommerce. Wenzel said repeated conversions come from the entire commerce journey.
Building A New Commerce Journey
Digital commerce paths are changing as website commerce gives ways to apps, social-media channels, voice and augmented reality, she said, and customers are choosing more complex digital journeys and choosing merchants who can meet them on any channel at any time.
Her advice to merchants: “Do your homework on your customer and understand what their needs and wants are.” Wenzel said retailers must look for “where you have that opportunity to create a moment of intersection, where you can add value and solve a customer pain.”