With the Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent economic downturn, most businesses are in the process of streamlining their operations. While the pandemic has thoroughly upended companies across the world - earth’s most customer-centric company, Amazon, has remained mostly unscathed by its effects.
As the sheer domination of online shopping pushed every company forward during the lockdown, e-commerce sales almost doubled in the month of May.
The amount of consumer spending on Amazon rose by 60% between May and July as compared to the same time-frame in 2019. The $280-billion-in-sales behemoth knew that the pandemic will hunker down customers at home, resulting in the surge of essential supplies on the web. With a key focus on overall customer experience, Amazon decided to ramp up its production to meet soaring demand. This resulted in $75.4 billion in revenue during the first quarter, which was 26% higher than the previous year.
Let's have a look and see how Amazon was able to achieve this massive feat by catering to its customers while adapting to this pandemic:
Offering options like front-porch delivery or unattended delivery
With an eye on the health and safety of its customers and employees, Amazon has offered customers the option to select “front-porch delivery” at the time of checkout. The delivery agent leaves the order at the front door without taking the customer's signature. Likewise, Prime Now and AmazonFresh customers can choose "unattended delivery" during checkout to ensure contactless delivery of their orders.
Combating price hikes
To protect its customers during the global crisis, Amazon imposed a cap on price increases for COVID related items like masks & sanitizers. With automated and manual means to effectively monitor their stores for coronavirus-based price gouging, Amazon has removed more than 3,900 selling accounts in their US store only. Moreover, its seamless collaboration with law enforcement agencies further helps in prosecuting alleged price gougers.
Empowering customers to stay connected and informed
To support customers during unprecedented times and raise hygiene awareness, Amazon has been using its devices - Alexa, Kindle, Fire TV, Echo, etc. Alexa now comes with 'Hand Wash Tunes' that feature custom musical timers from international artists to promote hygiene practices by adding some fun. Likewise, with guidance from PHAC (Public Health Agency of Canada), Alexa can check the Covid-19 symptoms of customers at home.
Expanding massively into groceries
With the exponential rise in grocery demand by customers during the COVID-19 crisis, Amazon has increased its grocery delivery services by 160 percent. To help customers get groceries on-time, Amazon decided to provide additional grocery delivery windows across its stores. With an immense focus on fulfilling grocery delivery, they have opened some temporary online-only stores in California and Illinois too.
Offering free & disposable masks to customers
Amazon has been providing disposable masks for free to all of its customers at physical retail stores and Whole Foods Market. To ensure their customers and employees stay safe, Amazon has invested around $4 billion on COVID-19 related expenses in the month of June.
Hiring big to support increased customer demand
At this time of crisis where many people have lost their jobs, Amazon has hired 175,000 people in their operations network to help them meet increased customer demand for deliveries. This has had a net positive effect on both employee and customer experience.
Amazon's leadership principles have helped them produce spectacular results during the crisis. With an aim to emphasize its global customer focus these leadership principles have worked as guides to navigate challenges - Even on the scale of the global pandemic.
To be a leader is to be an owner, and leaders act for their entire company, not just themselves or their team. Leaders think long term and don’t focus solely on short term gains.
- Customer Focus
Companies looking to be leaders start with the customer and then work backward, incorporating customer feedback along the way. Focusing on customer experience is especially useful in a time where the world is struck by a pandemic, and customers’ needs have undergone a paradigm shift.
- Think Big
Leaders think differently and think big. They’re always looking into new ways to engage with their customers or create a new customer base entirely.
- Leaders are right, a lot
Leaders have good instincts and strong judgment. They spend a lot of time testing if their beliefs are aligned with market reality. Even when they’re wrong and their bets don’t pay off, leaders can find ways to salvage solutions from their failures for future projects.
- Learn and be curious
Leaders are curious about new opportunities and are never done learning or improving themselves.
- Hire and develop the best
A leader can recognize exceptional talent and tends to raise the performance bar with every hire.
Now more than ever, these leadership principles have shone through in Amazon’s efforts to step up and meet customer needs - even in verticals where they weren't a major player. And this isn’t happening in a few developed countries - it’s happening globally. All of this while ensuring a good customer experience at almost all touchpoints.
Ever since its inception, Amazon has maintained a “Day One” mentality which helps them approach every aspect spiritedly like it's the first day. With a “Day One” mentality at its core, Amazon believes in integrating the scope and capabilities of a big company with the spirit and pliability of a small one.
What Jeff Bezos meant by these words is that customer are always dissatisfied. They're always on the lookout for a better option, and that makes it essential to constantly invent beforehand. Since customer trust is hard to win and easy to lose, Amazon follows a customer-first approach to constantly improve their services and features.
Examining why Amazon has flourished even at the time of the pandemic can help companies optimize for customer centricity.