By Doug Llewellyn, President & COO at Purch

When Amazon announced that it bought Whole Foods for nearly $14 billion back in June, the news sent shockwaves (if not ripples of fear) through the retail community. Is Amazon going to take over the grocery sector? Is the death of brick-and-mortar stores across all industries imminent? But as these and other nervous questions fly in the wake of the acquisition, retailers should be asking a different question: What can we learn from Amazon, and how can we follow its lead?

Amazon’s disruption of the retail world is nothing new. For decades, the e-commerce giant has reshaped the role that brick-and-mortars play in the customer journey, even spurring other retailers to follow suit. Take Warby Parker, for example. Founded in 2010, the company upended a $140 billion industry by moving the sale of eyeglasses online.

Of course, not every company can be the next Warby Parker, but every retailer can learn from the example set by Amazon. By studying the things that Amazon does right, companies can stop maligning this industry behemoth and focus on what really matters — building better businesses, both online and in stores.

Put customers in their place

Companies should start by remembering the old saying that “The customer is always right”. As the success of Amazon’s customer-centric model shows, that’s never been more true than it is today.

Luckily, retailers don’t have to be industry giants to provide top quality service or understand customers’ needs and expectations.  Brick-and-mortar retailers can easily engage in conversations with shoppers on-site or collect customers’ email addresses to follow up on transactions. Tools like Survey Monkey or Ask Your Target Market are also great and affordable options for smaller retailers to dig deeper into the customer mindset.

Make it personal

Putting the customer back at the center of the business model might sound like some kind of metaphor, but it isn’t. Amazon and its ilk use technology to understand consumer behaviors and target shoppers with products that appeal to them. In essence, every Amazon shopper exists at the center of his or her own retail universe.

Companies like Best Buy have clearly taken notice. Over the past 12 months, Best Buy has doubled down on improving its e-commerce platform — making transactions simpler for shoppers, enhancing its customized product recommendations and incentivizing online shoppers to buy more with competitive pricing. In Best Buy’s case, these efforts helped pave the way for a major win: Its domestic online sales grew by 31.2 percent year-over-year during the second quarter.

With enough thought and planning, even small retailers, whose businesses may not be as technologically advanced as Amazon or Best Buy, can create customer-centric shopping experiences.  E-commerce sellers can implement several different practices to personalize the shopping experience, including: seasonal deals, bespoke pricing and personalized discounts, suggested items to purchase and timely push notifications for mobile shoppers.

Be flexible

As Amazon’s recent foray into organic groceries shows, company business models can and should evolve according to new opportunities. Take, for example, Leesa, a mattress retailer that once sold its products exclusively online. In 2016, the company made a bold move when it opened its first brick-and-mortar location in one of New York City’s busiest shopping districts.

Recognizing when it’s time to try new things — whether that’s expanding e-commerce endeavors or creating a better real-world presence — is crucial to staying competitive. Be flexible, but focused. Channel experimentation around a goal, such as inciting buying behaviors. Then get creative. Offer discounts or daily deals. Diversify the products and services offered, and make sure that offerings are timely and seasonally relevant.

As retailers implement these ideas, they should also make sure to look beyond the now into the future.  As they do so, they should take a page from Amazon’s hugely successful membership program: Amazon Prime. Membership models and cash-back programs go a long way toward rewarding the loyalty of repeat customers and enticing new customers to get on board. And you don’t have to run an Amazon-sized business to offer big customer perks. There are many tech solutions for smaller businesses that seamlessly integrate loyalty programs into POS systems.

By taking Amazon’s lead and keeping customers at the center, gathering data to better understand their needs and implementing practices and tools to make the overall experience better, companies can improve their own businesses and achieve greater long-term success.  So instead of fearing companies like Amazon, perhaps we should all take a page from their playbook and follow suit instead.

Follow Purch COO Doug Llewellyn on Twitter for more industry insights! 

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Purch president and COO, Doug Llewellyn, discusses how different web properties at Purch serve audiences with content and information, enabling better and more informed purchase decisions around IT products and services. Doug also explains how Purch enables its marketing customers to reach intent based buyers and how he seeks to optimize customer content and increase the lifetime value of a member. 

Listen to the full podcast with marketing expert Scott King.

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Purch’s chief operating officer, Doug Llewellyn, recently sat down with SMB CEO to discuss how Purch is bringing the power of information to small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBS). This extensive Q&A reveals the true value behind Business.com’s new Business Report Card, a “Zillow-like” tool that SMB owners can use to determine the value of their businesses…

“Purch already had a robust community of 5.7 million SMB members, but we wanted to extend further into the very important, but often underserved, category. We relaunched Business.com in April as a platform that serves small-to-medium businesses throughout their lifecycle, from budding start-up to global expansion.

Business.com currently has a focus on 15 key industries, including restaurants, construction/general contracting, retail and other key verticals. We wanted to start out in those industries to tackle the biggest sectors where we could make an immediate impact based on our experience, the size of our membership within these industries, and the alignment across these industries with our existing partners.

Business.com will expand across even more areas so we can address the needs of all small business owners.”

Read the full interview with SMB CEO here.

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Longer-term needs for Tronc remain digital growth and strategic M&A

By Trey Williams

The best-case scenario for Tronc Inc. in its potential acquisition of Chicago Sun-Times owner Wrapports Holdings LLC is that it gets a good price and the deal improves cash flow.

Tronc TRNC, +1.83% , which publishes the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun and the Orlando Sentinel, announced on Monday that it had entered into a nonbinding agreement to acquire Wrapports. Wrapports said that it would entertain other offers but that if no other viable buyers expressed substantial interest within 15 days it would finalize its sale to Tronc.

“It’s a head scratcher,” said Singular Research analyst Robert Maltbie. “We’re in the dark because we don’t know the valuation of this company. I like it if it’s accretive to [Tronc’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization], if they’re getting it for a great price, and it helps maintain cash flow so the company doesn’t go under.”

But even then, this would likely be nothing more than a Band-Aid for Tronc, according to Doug Llewellyn, chief operating officer of the digital publishing platform Purch.

Read the full article here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/if-chicago-tribune-and-la-times-publisher-tronc-buys-sun-times-parent-its-only-step-1-2017-05-18

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Doug Llewellyn is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Purch, a New York City-based digital publishing and marketplace platform that helps more than 100 million users make better buying decisions. Purch is now relaunching Business.com, a platform that allows Purch to develop an ecosystem for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The new Business.com provides entrepreneurial expertise, products and services, all of which are crucial for SMBs to navigate complex buying decisions and gain a competitive advantage.I had the opportunity to hear from Doug and learn what value Business.com is bringing to growing businesses.

To read the article, please click here

 

 

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