Since 1994, Amazon has pursued one succinct mission: “To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.” For Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, that means putting customers at the center of everything they do. “We like to pioneer, we like to explore, we like to go down dark alleys and see what’s on the other side,” Bezos told 60 Minutes correspondent Charlie Rose in a December 2013 interview.
With 225 million customers worldwide, the Internet giant still takes the art of reinvention to new heights by “changing the way the world shops, reads, and computes,” as Rose said. With diverse products and services such as e-readers, fresh groceries, and Web services, Amazon keeps expanding its territory by leaps and bounds. But it’s the company’s focus on speed, ease, and low cost of delivery that has everyone buzzing. In addition to offering customers Sunday delivery throughout most of the United States, the e-tailer’s Amazon Prime membership program guarantees subscribers unlimited free two-day shipping. The program has not only generated tens of millions of memberships worldwide, it has substantially increased customer spending.
And now Bezos and his company are investigating their riskiest venture to date: drones. Known as “octocopters,” these futuristic delivery vehicles are designed to get customers their packages within 30 minutes. Although this service is likely years away, it is my view that moves like these rewrite the retail playbook and upend the category. Amazon sets the baseline for customer expectations and continually accelerates faster than most of us can appreciate.
I believe that if direct response marketers want to survive and thrive in this marketplace, we need to emulate the Amazon customer experience. I’m not suggesting that DR companies invest in drone technology, but marketers must engage customers in the manner in which they want to be reached and served. And regulators at all levels are either explicitly or implicitly moving marketers in this direction.
Sure, it can be terrifying and potentially costly to make the necessary changes in your business operations, but it is an unavoidable reality. To remain profitable, marketers must meet customers where they are—because let’s face it, the customers are the ones dictating the terms of the new digital economy.
Image courtesy of David Rodriguez Martin, Flickr.com