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AMAZING BRAND…AMAZING SERVICE!
I was speaking recently with a long-time advertising colleague and friend and we were talking about the state of retail marketing. He indicated that he thought that all of the hype about Amazon was exaggerated and that brick & mortar retail was still the foundation of consumer selling. I agreed that “no, retail stores were not going to completely disappear anytime soon”, but I felt that the retail landscape had been changed forever. And, I pointed out that Amazon was probably the biggest factor in this retail revolution. Granted, the internet in total was the reason that shopping patterns had dramatically changed, but Amazon has been the leader in the changes in the way people shop more than any other single marketer in the world.
Watching the vans and trucks and golf carts going up and down our neighborhood streets over the holidays delivering package after package with those smile symbols on the side should be evidence enough that Americans are shopping more from their laptops and phones than we ever imagined just a few short years ago. And the pattern crosses all demographic and economic profiles with male and females, young and old, rich and poor, etc., etc. and there is no turning back. The disappearance of shopping malls personifies the changing shopping habits, but the delivery boxes demonstrate how we have become a nation of purchasers instead of a land of shoppers more than ever. I have to admit that we receive on average 2-3 Amazon deliveries a week and we don’t consider ourselves online junkies at all. The reason this is so common is simple. Amazon has created a brand that means convenience, time-saving, and savings for just about anything that you want to buy.
I’ve purchased everything from pool pumps to green tea, from auto wheel covers to protein shakes, and more and more. The reasons are simple. 1. It’s easy. I can buy just about anything we need with one click with Prime. 2. Not sure what you need? Search in general topics and you’ll find what you need quickly. 3. Not sure what to pay? You can compare prices at conventional retailers, online, catalogues, you name it…and the savings are usually significant enough that it’s a no brainer.
Amazon has made it simple and they continue to use the technology and logistics to make it fast and trustworthy. Making a return is as easy as purchasing. Getting a credit is fast and hassle free. As an author, Amazon made it easy to self-publish with Create Space. Then it was easy to reach readers with Kindle online access. Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) is the largest provider of Cloud service in the world and that technological advantage is passed on to its consumer services every day. Amazon is a huge factor in video streaming and service and had moved into production in a big way. Have any more questions? Just get Alexa and ask away. The voice recognition service has Siri running and fostering a number of other in-home voice service like Google and Home Pad growing at a hectic pace. The other big news recently was the launch of Amazon Go, a check-out free food store that is a game changer in the grocery industry using technology being developed for other high-tech innovations. Over 15 years ago, I attended the National Retail Federation’s annual convention in New
York where there was a Store of the Future exposition demonstrating the RFID technology developed by Magna in Germany which not only promised the check-out free capability and automatic replenishment systems of the future. This really hasn’t developed in the US or mass markets around the world as expected. However, the Amazon Go prototype in Seattle is definitely the sign of things to come in retail. There are many other innovations that Amazon has announced in the past year, but it would take 2-3 more pages here to just briefly describe what’s in store. Suffice it to say that the Amazon brand is growing by leaps and bounds and the customers are loyal and really satisfied.
Is it working? Well, consider that Amazon’s 2017 net sales were nearly $180 Billion, a 31% increase over the previous year. Operating income, even after the investment in new technology and systems was still over $4 Billion in 2017. Innovation is the key. The company launched 1430 new services last year, while continuing to develop community service programs like its “Delivering Smiles” where it donates thousands of items to families to help fight homelessness. It’s an appropriate name for a brand that is now part of the fabric of our life as every time another package is picked up by the doorstep another smile takes place!
A TRIBUTE TO A GREAT AD MAN AND FRIEND
Last week, the Tampa Bay area lost one of its truly great advertising executives, and I lost a good friend. Cedar Hames was one of the first advertising people I met when I moved to St. Petersburg some 43 years ago. We instantly hit it off because we shared a passion for advertising excellence, marketing strategy and branding. We also shared a craziness that made doing business fun. During this time Cedar grew from media sales to the advertising agency business, where he started a couple of firms, including Paradise Advertising, which he grew to being one of the largest in the Tampa Bay area and Florida. He recently sold his agency to enjoy the paradise of Florida where he was a native. I’m sure he will be enjoying a higher paradise than he planned, and we will truly miss him.