How Amazon Is a Roadmap for Digital Transformation Success

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: May 11, 2021

No matter what type of organization you are, it is safe to say that you probably wouldn’t hurt by adopting some of Amazon’s best practices. Many of us interact with Amazon and, depending on what part of the world you are in, Alibaba daily. These are two massive eCommerce providers that have not only revolutionized how we go about shopping on a regular basis, but they have also cemented themselves as an integral part of society. They somehow manage to do this all while maintaining an unparalleled customer experience.

With the world becoming increasingly data-driven every day, we can anticipate the success of these two giants to increase. So, what are some of the lessons we can learn from Amazon? Which best practices can we apply from these leading eCommerce companies to act as a roadmap for a successful digital transformation, regardless of our industry?

Ecommerce technologies can provide a template or a blueprint for how we interact with our customers.

Regardless of what product or service we provide to our customers, it is the customer experience that establishes loyalty and trust. Amazon and Alibaba’s fundamental business goal and focus is the distribution of physical products. Yet, that is not what they're best known for. They are best known for the customer experience they create for their consumers.

They simplify the buying process. They make it so easy to find information about a product. They make the ordering process very intuitive. They make shipping, delivery, and even returns incredibly transparent and easy.

All organizations, no matter the industry, need to keep their customer experience top of mind. Taking it a step further to create well-tailored, unique experiences will only drive growth in a company’s reputation and bottom line. Even if you're an organization that doesn't provide retail products or services to customers directly, leveraging the discipline shown by Amazon to put the customer experience above all else should be the foundation of every company’s business decisions.

Integrated data and processes are provided to benefit customers.

We’ve established that Amazon’s focus on the customer experience should be replicated by any organization looking to develop an ongoing relationship with customers. So, how can this experience be made even stronger once it’s refined and established?

Amazon has done just that by creating a one-stop-shop that leverages customer data to provide a shopping experience tailored to each unique customer’s interests. They have also created a diverse shopping experience. An individual can shop for a vintage record player, a vinyl from their favorite band, all while ordering their monthly supply of vitamins in a single order.

Amazon has made the need to stop at multiple stores to buy a list of various items a thing of the past, all in favor of the customer. This not only provides a quick and easy way for customers to make purchases, but it also provides better efficiency and transparency on the back-end operation for Amazon.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning to optimize our customer experience.

If you've spent any amount of time on Amazon or other eCommerce websites, you've likely encountered recommendations that suggest products based on your past behavior, your demographic, where you live, or your income level. These are highly personalized recommendations made to you as a customer, and Amazon is able to do this by utilizing artificial intelligence.

With predictive modeling, the data collected on both your identity and past purchase behavior are used to determine what you may buy in the future. With that information, they have an algorithm that will get a product of interest in front of you.

As for non-eCommerce providers, or if you're in an industry outside of retail, you can also leverage that best practice to determine the best use of your customer data. This will help you anticipate a prospective customer’s needs before they even know what those are, driving sales for your bottom line.

Seek to reduce inefficiencies and costs always.

Amazon is known for its excellent customer experience, intuitive website, and same-day delivery we've grown accustomed to as customers. They have been able to create these pillars in their organization through their supply chain efficiency that they have been able to implement.

As a former client of Third Stage Consulting, we've had a firsthand look into how they automate their warehouses and the robotics they use to continuously fuel their obsession with efficiency, scale, and driving down costs wherever possible. Tactics like opening different distribution centers throughout the world and partnering with suppliers to drop ship to customers are leveraged to focus on efficiency, size, and scale.

When looking at your organization, even if you're not an eCommerce provider, retailer, or direct-to-consumer provider, there are lessons here that can be used to drive out inefficiencies and surplus costs from your company to free up resources better used towards focusing on the customer.

Digital Transformation Case Study.

Third Stage Consulting recently worked with a company that's one of the largest steel manufacturers and distributors in the world. This is likely as far from an eCommerce/technology provider like Amazon as you could possibly be. It's an old-school industry that is entirely structured around business-to-business selling.

Despite being a more mature company in a vastly different industry, they still face the need to leverage technologies to provide a better customer experience. By growing through the process of numerous acquisitions, this client was now in possession of many corporate entities that still functioned as independent companies.

Each company within their organization’s umbrella also came with different technologies, sales reps, and websites. Each company’s purpose was to purchase steel products from different divisions within the enterprise. As you can imagine, they needed to make a change and create a more consolidated experience.

This client decided to embark on a digital transformation to integrate each acquired company’s technology and provide a more consistent and seamless customer experience as part of a commercial excellence initiative.

Step one was to provide more of a consumer-grade type of experience for their customers. They wanted to enable the ease of taking queries to one website, the ease of speaking to one sales rep, and therefore, conveniently getting the full breadth of services and products that this provider offered to their customers from one source.

Step two was to implement the right, full scope ERP system, and business intelligence technology to get better visibility into all their different branches of the organization operating in different parts of the world. Silos had formed across the independently operated parts of the business, hindering efficiency and the ability to share customer data. The newly implemented business intelligence tools gave them visibility into all the different nooks and crannies of the organization.

With that came the ability to drill down in real-time and examine order volumes, customer satisfaction reviews, order defects, and many other crucial business metrics. Having that transparent, integrated data was another essential part of this organization's digital transformation that aided in the ability to optimize the newly refined customer experience by establishing collaboration at an enterprise level.

Begin Your Digital Transformation Journey

If you are seeking more information about best practices related to your digital transformation journey, we encourage you to download our 2021 digital transformation report. If you’d like to discuss your digital transformation in more detail, I am always happy to be an informal sounding board. Don’t hesitate to reach out directly, no matter the status of your project.

Be sure to download the newly released 2023 Digital Transformation Report to garner additional industry insight and project best practices.

Also download our Supply Chain Management Playbook here.

Kimberling Eric Blue Backgroundv2
Eric Kimberling

Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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