When you are up against a strong competitor, a natural reaction is to get caught up with trying to emulate what they are doing. You tend to think “if they can do it, so can we and then things will be different”. In some situations, this is necessary as their advantages or differentiators become the new ante to compete in the space.
More often, it’s a mistake. You end up trying to beat the strong competitor at their own game which you inevitably lose. In addition, you also find yourself always playing catch up because the strong competitor is not stationary.
This is the case with same day delivery for online purchases. Google, as well as others, have invested a lot recently into building this feature in an attempt to compete against Amazon. However, this is not where they should be focusing their energy.
For sure, same day delivery from online purchases has consumer benefit but it satisfies a specific buying situation – the consumer’s need for the item today. However, most online and even brick & mortar purchases for that matter are not time sensitive. Waiting two to seven days to receive the item is more than satisfactory.
Let’s look at this in the context of what Amazon and Google are really competing against each other for. Each wants to own the hearts and minds of consumers and be the consumer’s home base for all things related to shopping – search, research, compare, purchase and so on. Further, this battle is no longer confined to ecommerce.
Although same day delivery is a nice feature, it won’t capture the hearts and minds of all shoppers. Even for the shoppers that value this feature, this alone isn’t strong enough to capture their hearts and minds. This isn’t a new ante to the game.
Enabling this feature is all about logistics. Amazon is world class. Google isn’t. That doesn’t mean they can’t be but it requires significant investment in money and effort to equal Amazon’s proficiency. So all of this begs the question: why do something that is hard and costly but doesn’t achieve your ultimate strategy?
More often, instead of following, the right course of action is to innovate and redefine the rules of the game in a way that suits your strengths. Specifically, in this context, we see two prevalent consumer buying behaviors that no platform has solved for the shopper.
- Cross shopping across multiple websites to review and compare items
- Research in one channel and buy in another (online to offline and vice versa)
Both behaviors require a common solution. A platform for the shopper to save information about items they are considering to purchase that is agnostic to merchant and channel (e.g., web or brick & mortar).
Granted there are several existing tools that help shoppers with accumulation of information in a single place including Google’s shortlist. However, these tools are incomplete in that they are missing recommendations which are helpful and valued by the shopper. At the same time, the platform becomes an innovative marketing solution for merchants powered by the Holy Grail of Marketing Data which in turn delivers personalized offers to the shopper through the recommendations. A win-win for the shopper and merchant.
If done right, this solution will win a consumer’s heart and mind as it becomes an extension of the shopper himself/herself. It captures electronically all the information a shopper has in his/her mind and stored across many places (e.g., email, browser tabs, hand written notes) and gets the best deals for that shopper. Best of all, the business model is all about marketing and avoids the complications of fulfillment and logistics.
Implementation of this platform is just an extension of Shortlist Marketing to include concepts discussed in Omnichannel. In other words, the ideas about how to solve it are known. The opportunity is waiting for someone to come along and do it.