It’s A Jungle Out There

Turns out when you move house, it provides you with infinite fodder for how brands behave and how brands should be better.  It’s also great to see how the insights and recommendations The Interpreters give on customer experience should be applied to some of the brands I’ve had to deal with in the last couple of weeks.

Let’s start with the brand in question, Amazon. Truth be told, the working title for this blog was a two-horse race between ‘Amazon: You Suck’ and ‘Amazon Is The Worst’.  Possibly biased by the fact that I’ve spent considerable time in both the UK and U.S, I know what Amazon in Australia could be.  A depth of range, inexpensive, fast, effortless, seamless.  All of these brand promises / pillars in Australia are as far away as my Amazon delivery that never made it to me.

But more on that later.  Remember back in 2017 where it was claimed the Amazon would disrupt the Australian retail sector.  That clearly hasn’t happened.  Looking at retail today, there’s the environment to consider – growth in retail spending is stagnant and even the leading and established brands are struggling.  There’s a voluntary administration / store closure story in most weekly news cycles.  Consumers aren’t spending as much either – wage growth is only slightly above inflation and despite record low interest rates, there’s a fiscal conservatism that we’ve seen in other categories beyond retail.  Barriers to online shopping might slowly be dropping in households but established retailers have upped their game and come with stronger brand awareness and equity.  So it’s challenging but in my opinion, not an excuse for the poor performance of Amazon.

I signed up for an Amazon Prime membership around a year ago, free for the first 3 months and then clearly, set and forget.  Delivering me the brilliance of Fleabag and Jack Ryan kept the brand in my consciousness, but it was when a calendar reminder of an impending birthday flashed up, and no chance to visit bricks and mortars stores in the 24 hour window, did Amazon emerge as a contender.  I mean, I’m a Prime member, that gives me guaranteed 24 hour delivery – the birthday person would never know how close I came to forgetting.  So, present ordered … 24 hour stop watch set.

But alas, hadn’t read the fine print of my relationship with Amazon which I’ll summarise – 1) only delivered to the billing address and not the shipping address, 2) only delivered between 6pm – 9pm 3) no authority to leave at the address.  Received notification that the parcel was delivered (it wasn’t), spent 30 minutes online trying to find a way to contact Amazon (not a great user experience) and then was told that they outsource their shipping so needed to contact the 3rd party (who unable to deliver the package, on Amazon’s instructions, had sent it back to Amazon).  Live chat later after a phone call to customer service failed, a replacement product would be sent out four days later.  Fortunately, birthday party was delayed and no one was none the wiser.  

We’ve just done research on ‘cancel culture’ so hesitant to act in haste but in a challenging retail environment, Amazon’s not failing from macro forces, rather an inability to deliver on its core principle and what we consistently hear is a number one factor in brand loyalty – customer experience.

And while we’re here, fix your algorithm.  Purchasing Lego for a 5th birthday in no ways should trigger the below ‘personalised’ recommendation.  

You are the worst!

By Paul Dixon

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