They say having babies changes everything. As a new mother of twins, I know that is an understatement. My life-altering change began on September 15, 2010, when I began to see the world from an entirely new perspective. From the beginning, it was clear that I would never return to my old world. And then on October 28, my babies Kate and Max were born.
So what was that event that changed everything in the month before my babies arrived? In a seemingly innocent email, Amazon.com invited me to become an ‘Amazon Mom’. The offer was simple – enroll in the free program, then enjoy discounts on diapers, exclusive email offers, and free two-day shipping without a minimum purchase amount. I signed up and made some pre-baby purchases: a twin stroller, some crib sheets, a diaper bag.
But it was only after Kate and Max arrived that I truly became an Amazon Mom. I began to order items that I previously would have never considered buying online: an $8 pack of burp cloths, a $12 bottle drying rack, a $3 nasal aspirator. Yes, even the $3 item included free two-day shipping. I become so committed to the program that when my supply of wipes ran below the two day inventory level, I literally had to be reminded that it was possible to drive to a store to buy more. By the time my babies turned six months old, I had placed 170 orders with Amazon.com. If that number doesn’t shock you, realize that is essentially one order per day!
In less than a year, Amazon has become my supplier of choice not only for baby products, but for everything. In the last week alone, in addition to diapers, baby wipes, two bath seats and a bath toy bag, I’ve also ordered a shower caddy, a stovetop grill pan, and a 46 inch TV.
So what is it that Amazon has done to earn my loyalty?
- They understood my needs. Quite simply, Amazon won my business by understanding my needs as a customer. They knew what I needed as a new Mom, which was quite remarkable, considering I didn’t even know what I needed. But what was clear was that whatever I needed, I needed it quickly, and I didn’t have the time to drive to a store to buy it. The first time there were no clean crib sheets in the middle of the night, I ordered four more sets. After Kate’s first cold, I discovered ‘Boogie Wipes’. And the first time I found Max with his legs stuck out the side of the crib, I found the perfect solution, a ‘breathable’ bumper pad, all from Amazon.com, all arriving at our doorstep two days after the order was placed.
- They earned my trust with fair pricing. Determined to not be pulled into a costly scam shielded by a ‘free shipping’ cover, I researched other websites to compare prices before my first five purchases. (Granted, those were in the month prior to the babies’ birth, when I thought I was busy but comparatively had all the time in the world.) Nonetheless, I was pleased to find that the pricing was as good or even better at Amazon.com than it was at the other sites, where I would also have to pay for shipping. And that was before I discovered ‘subscribe and save’ products — by activating subscriptions for diapers, I receive a 30% discount on the product, and don’t even need to worry about ordering– a new box just arrives at my house every month!
- They made it easy … all the while doing it on their terms. Of those 170 orders, I placed about half from my laptop, and the other half from my iPad. With one-click ordering, I could easily feed a baby at 3 a.m. while ordering a humidifier at the same time. And the number of human interactions related to my 170 orders? Exactly one. One phone call was necessary to help with a complicated return (after I accidentally ordered the same set of items during a tired 5 am feeding that I had already ordered during the babies’ 2 am feeding.) So while I am praising the simple ordering process, Amazon can celebrate having executed its channel strategy: manage the order process from beginning to end through self-service. If you want to promote self-service, make it easy and fool-proof. Amazon has succeeded here.
In its program overview, Amazon Mom claims to offer “Real Benefits for Time Crunched Parents.” What at first seemed like a catchy slogan, in retrospect captures the essence of how Amazon won my loyalty: I needed solutions in a time crunch. And perhaps there is the lesson for other retailers: it really isn’t always about the products that you sell. I suspect that of the 170 orders that I placed, anyone of them could have been fulfilled by another online store. What hooked me was that Amazon really provided me with a solution – I didn’t just need diapers, I needed diapers that come to my doorstep at a fair price without even having to think about it.
In Amazon’s case, what they sell are “Millions of products for your family”. Apparently I have a lot more buying in my future.