It’s no secret that Amazon has led the pack in online shopping innovation through free and quick shipping, one-click checkout and sweeping consumer reviews. Not impervious to competition, however, even Amazon is facing the rising threat of losing market share to eBay and Google Shopping in the war to surpass each other.

The rest of the industry need not roll over and relinquish faith in being able to supply a service while turning a profit, however. By capitalizing on emerging consumer demands and evolving customer journeys in the digital realm, brands can flourish by positioning themselves as more than a retailer and make valuable connections. While Amazon has forged the bottom-up business model fueling its expansive recommendation engine and tailored product selection, the user’s experience as a whole lacks the “for me” feeling from the store that seemingly has everything. In an ever-changing space, online retailers can compete by taking advantage of ability to personalize and keeping an ear to their customers to implement new strategies followed by evaluation.


Finding and acting on the nuances of customers goes a long way towards building critical brand affinity. Every touchpoint made with existing and potential customers is an opportunity to capitalize on information gathered to make an impression in the few moments spared by distracted consumers. And yet, retailers are still pushing inconsequential content to consumers and training consumers to tune out their messages.

In a recent survey, 62% of respondents replied they find emails from brands neither helpful nor relevant. This shows many retailers are wasting resources to churn out messages destined for the trash folder. To remain a valuable resource and combat a reputation of retailers as nuisances, flash sale site Gilt Groupe has long tailored the content in emails to the user. Taking personalization a step further, however, Gilt has recently launched the algorithm-powered “Your Personal Sale” feature, which curates the best sales for each user based factors such as browsing history and geographic location. Gilt knows mobile is especially important, drawing 40% of their revenue, and therefore pioneered a solution to simplify actions needed to reach relevant products.

For other ecommerce shops, email is a perfect time to reach users with orphaned shopping carts and recommend new products based on account information for a personalized experience to alter the conversation in a positive direction and lead users back to the retail destination.

Implement The Good Advice From Your Users

As communication platforms multiply, consumers are more vocal than ever, and they demand retailers listen and reply. Consumers seek a return on their engagement and expect their interactions to lead to a change. Retailers must adopt a test and learn mentality to not only keep up with the industry in large, but more importantly the needs of their unique customers. Driving decisions by customer input allow for long-term success so long as after following observations, double down on what is working. Working together to create a mutually beneficial platform is the spark to ignite a prosperous, collaborative engagement.

Over the past year, fashion site Refinery29 made a push to focus on introducing commerce in addition to their primarily content-based focus. When users didn’t bite as much as expected, Refinery29 reprioritized to the tune of $20 million in funding to concentrate on producing editorials, which is the way in which the bond with the site’s readers is strengthened. Remaining authentic to what their users value, even when it seems counter-intuitive that commerce would not make as much revenue as content, Refinery29’s experiment shows the potential of quickly course-correcting strategies to adapt to what user behavior is telling them.

Keeping an ear and eye on social, search patterns and customer feedback are simple yet underutilized best practices in which users express themselves in an unbiased manner. Consumers continue to express their pain and pleasure points and are becoming fed up with brands that don’t listen.

Web users visit commerce websites on average every other day. To combat price comparison and referring potential customers to seemingly menacing one-stop-shops such as Amazon, retailers can stand their ground by getting ahead of rapidly changing technology and subsequent maturing consumer demands. Through invaluable personalization techniques and extending customer service through the entire customer journey, brands can build a dedicated community of users to surpass the competition.