Shoppers Voice Their Opinions About The Amazon ‘Experience’

From Forbes on May 23, 2016:

Amazon. Without a doubt, whether spoken of directly, implied, or outright avoided, one of the top buzzwords at the recent Shoptalk retail conference was the name of Jeff Bezos’ online powerhouse, which shoppers have been increasingly gravitating toward over traditional retailers. Though some speakers, such as Hudson’s Bay Company CEO Jerry Storch, were dismissive of Amazon.com, others were willing to recognize it as a threat, with most leveling the following arguments against the retailer: 1.) consumers lose human interaction shopping with Amazon; and 2.) Amazon doesn’t provide shoppers with an “experience.”

Through Prosper’s syndicated consumer survey, we collect insights from nearly 2,000 Amazon shoppers each month, and from our vantage, it appears that shoppers would disagree with these pundits on both fronts. Indeed, Amazon doesn’t have associates to personally greet shoppers when they click over to their website – but shoppers are met with personalized product recommendations and have access to live customer service representatives. Nor does Amazon provide its shoppers with that certain ambiance that’s typical, but varying, when shopping brick and mortar – but in the digital age of retailing, do shoppers really care so much about that anymore? Or, does the real “experience” come with the knowledge that, for example, parents can simultaneously make trusted purchases from their mobile devices while spending a Saturday at the soccer fields with their children? With shoppers becoming increasingly comfortable buying everything from common household supplies to apparel to big ticket electronics over the Internet, it seems that the very definition of the shopping “experience” is evolving along with changing consumer lifestyles – and Amazon is leading the charge.

Case in point: Prosper’s recent Customer Service Champions, where five of the top ten retailers recognized for service excellence – by consumers – were non-store retailers. While L.L.Bean, the direct-to-consumer pioneer, was shoppers’ top pick, Amazon.com was a firm runner-up for the second year in the row. And among Gen X-ers and those coveted Millennials, Amazon’s service clout rose higher. While we divulged a few of the reasons why customers chose Amazon as their top service provider when we first announced this year’s Champions, let’s now take a closer look at how shoppers, in their own words, view human interaction and the Amazon experience specifically.

Through Prosper’s syndicated consumer survey, we collect insights from nearly 2,000 Amazon shoppers each month, and from our vantage, it appears that shoppers would disagree with these pundits on both fronts. Indeed, Amazon doesn’t have associates to personally greet shoppers when they click over to their website – but shoppers are met with personalized product recommendations and have access to live customer service representatives. Nor does Amazon provide its shoppers with that certain ambiance that’s typical, but varying, when shopping brick and mortar – but in the digital age of retailing, do shoppers really care so much about that anymore? Or, does the real “experience” come with the knowledge that, for example, parents can simultaneously make trusted purchases from their mobile devices while spending a Saturday at the soccer fields with their children? With shoppers becoming increasingly comfortable buying everything from common household supplies to apparel to big ticket electronics over the Internet, it seems that the very definition of the shopping “experience” is evolving along with changing consumer lifestyles – and Amazon is leading the charge.

Case in point: Prosper’s recent Customer Service Champions, where five of the top ten retailers recognized for service excellence – by consumers – were non-store retailers. While L.L.Bean, the direct-to-consumer pioneer, was shoppers’ top pick, Amazon.com was a firm runner-up for the second year in the row. And among Gen X-ers and those coveted Millennials, Amazon’s service clout rose higher. While we divulged a few of the reasons why customers chose Amazon as their top service provider when we first announced this year’s Champions, let’s now take a closer look at how shoppers, in their own words, view human interaction and the Amazon experience specifically.

On Human Interaction: Amazon shoppers can interact with customer service at their convenience and via preferred communication style (we have entered the texting age, after all). Even better, shoppers say, is that Amazon employees are empowered to take common sense approaches to solve problems and delight customers.

Amazon shoppers voice their opinions on human interaction.

On the Amazon Experience: Amazon may provide customers with a different shopping experience compared to brick and mortar, but it is an experience nevertheless which generates loyalty and repeat visits from shoppers. Clearly, Amazon has redefined the modern-day definition of a retail experience with shoppers citing transparency in pricing and product information, access to customer reviews they can trust, clear communication regarding orders/shipping status, as well as occasions that evoke a Nordstrom-esque level of amazing service (see the Kindle reference below).

Amazon shoppers on the Amazon.com experience.

For retailers who continue to be in denial about the relationships and loyalty that Amazon.com has built with shoppers: good luck with that.

Pam Goodfellow is Principal Analyst/Consumer Insights Director for Prosper Insights & Analytics and editor of the monthly Consumer Snapshot

Three Reasons Why Kohl’s Shoppers Aren’t Ready For Apple Pay

From Forbes on May 16, 2016:

Heading off its dismal report of a 3.9% same-store sales decline for Q1 2016, Kohl’s, the retail favorite of discount-loving shoppers nationwide, recently made a technological splash with the announcement that they were simplifying the brick-and-mortar purchase process by linking Kohl’s store credit cards and its Yes2You rewards program together under Apple Pay. The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, based chain was the first of just two retailers (the other, BJ’s Wholesale Club) to link its store credit card with Apple Pay, and the integration of loyalty rewards into a single-tap mobile transaction indicates that Kohl’s is taking a firm step into the digitally-driven retail future.

It seems more intuitive that an announcement of this kind might have been more likely to come from a retailer touting the latest and greatest in technology (i.e. Best Buy) or from a certain competitor making no secret about courting young shoppers with an elevated store experience (ahem, Macy’s). Instead, it seems that this sometimes underestimated staple in shopping centers nationwide has beaten its retailing peers to the mobile payment punch, allowing shoppers to double up on their loyalty (vis-à-vis their Kohl’s charge and Yes2You rewards) with one tap. The big question remains, though: are Kohl’s shoppers ready for Apple Pay? For this new analysis, we’ll take a look at some of the barriers that Kohl’s may face getting their shoppers to adopt Apple Pay using consumer insights from Prosper Insights & Analytics. Continue reading

How Party Establishment Missed The Mark With Trump Voters

From Forbes on May 13, 2016:

Perhaps Time Magazine will choose the Voter as the “person(s) of the year” for 2016. This might just be the year when historians say the voters, not their parties and ideologies, took control of the election process. Ever since the Indiana Primary win by Donald Trump, there have been numerous articles dissecting how the pundits and political elites misjudged Trump’s presumptive nominee status. Some attempted to explain Trump’s popularity in a derogatory way by claiming it to be a cult of personality, as if he were a dictator. Others simply said, in a condescending manner, that it is anger from less educated, lower income Trump voters that is driving his popularity. Neither of these analyses fits the profile. Continue reading…

Changing Consumers Drive Increase In Amazon Shopper Preference And Soft Auto Outook

From Forbes on May 2, 2016:

Today’s consumers continue to evolve, which is evident in their shopping behaviors and purchase intentions. Deborah Weinswig, Managing Director of Fung Global Retail & Technology, has weighed in again this month on some of Prosper’s leading indicator analytics including Prosper Consumer Confidence, the Prosper Spending Forecast, the Prosper Impulsivity Score, and the Consumer Mood Index. She also took a special look at Prosper’s recently released Amazon Shopper Preference Index.

Amazon.com Shopper Preference Index: In just two years, Amazon’s Shopper Preference Index has increased 48% from 2014. Weinswig commented, “Amazon has become the first stop on the web to begin most shopping searches, and with an ever expanding product and service offering, it is no surprise. Amazon is still in the early innings in many product categories and Fung Global Retail & Technology anticipates continue reading… 

Prosper’s Political Changer Score Identifies Voters Unhappy with Government, Excited for Election and Looking for Change

Worthington, OH – 5/3/16

Voters are rejecting the old traditional party ideology which has been illustrated in a hotly contested presidential primary and will likely carry over to the presidential election. It is important for campaign marketers to recognize that these same feelings are going to translate to state and local campaigns. Prosper Insights & Analytics developed the Political Changer Score to provide better insights on the degree that various voter groups are: 1. not happy with the government, 2. are excited for the election and 3. prefer a non-politician candidate.  Continue reading

The Hidden Danger In Brick And Mortar Customer Files: Amazon Prime Members

From Forbes on April 27, 2016:

Retailers have become very adept at mining customer transaction files looking for some obscure data point that may help them become more knowledgeable about their customers. However, hidden from these instore shopper analytics are all of the transactions their customers make outside their stores with competitors.

In the recent past, cross shopping was consistent across peers and oftentimes varied by department or customer segment. Some loyal shoppers prefer a certain store for women’s apparel but are more delighted by a competitor for children’s clothing purchases. It may have been a zero sum market but it was, for the most part, pretty consistent and much easier to project. Not so in today’s digitally disrupted market with thousands of online competitors, many not even on the big brick and mortar retailers’ radar screens, each vying for a piece of a store’s shopper’s wallet.

Of course, the biggest and baddest of these is the one everyone knows: Amazon. Continue reading…

Lowe’s Poised As Successor To The Sears Appliance Empire

From Forbes on April 26, 2016:

With speculation about the future of Sears Holdings running rampant among analysts and amid news of additional store closures, one has to wonder which retailers might step up with shoppers should a Sears shutdown become a reality. Earlier in the year, I detailed the highs and lows for Sears, according to insights from Prosper’s consumer survey of more than 6,000 U.S. adults 18+. One positive that remained for Sears was its first place position in appliances; however, while Sears currently leads in this category, the once dominant department store’s share is undoubtedly slipping with shoppers. With some of retail’s biggest boxes, including Home Depot and Best Buy, vying for the appliance crown, recent analysis reveals that Lowe’s appears to be best positioned to succeed Sears’ reign. Continue reading

The Prosper Foundation Continues to Support Predictive Analytics through Latest Grant to Columbia Business School

WORTHINGTON, OH — 4/25/16 — The Prosper Foundation has announced that the Columbia Business School – Center on Global Brand Leadership is the latest university to receive a grant of relevant consumer data and analytic tools to help prepare students for careers in a data-driven world. The Center on Global Brand Leadership “creates, gathers, and shares insights on how to build and manage strong brands.”  Continue reading