Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bezos captures mindshare: Who cares about drones?

The latest marketing coup extraordinaire goes to Jeff Bezos for kicking off the e-tailing holiday season on 60 Minutes by capturing in our minds the enviable position that Amazon is all about fast delivery.  Not FedEx.  Not UPS, which lamely limps in two days later with the announcement that it too has plans for drones.  Who else has ever been able to focus the media on that unsexy, but oh-so necessary workhorse—distribution?  60 Minutes, with a gushing Charlie Rose, spent over 2 minutes analyzing one of Amazon’s 96 worldwide distribution centers, oohing and aahing over pick-pack as if Jeff himself had personally invented fulfillment.

And what better timing—the day before the so-called Cyber-Monday?
Bezos attended the now defunct Annual Catalog Conference, which, in full disclosure was an event launched by my former magazine—Catalog Age (now Multichannel Merchant) and the Direct Marketing Association.  There he may have learned some of the lessons that catalogers and other direct marketers had been driving home for years: 1) The value of a customer, 2) The importance of tracking customer transaction behavior, among other data, and 3) The fact that Shipping & Handling is the major stumbling block in sight unseen transactions (like over the web or from a catalog).
The surest way to overcome S&H is to make it a non-objection.  Free shipping is one way, but, if it is not done well, it breaks the bank.  Amazon has Amazon Prime--$79, but you never have to worry about it for the rest of the year.  And if I don’t like that pink cashmere sweater I bought, returns are easy.  Delayed gratification due to slow delivery.  Now, Amazon is picking away at that problem—same day, within a half an hour?  He’s telling us, it’s all within reach and Amazon is bushwhacking the way.
Ries & Trout called positioning the battle for consumers’ minds.  Kudos Bezos, you now own fast delivery in the mind of the American customer.

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