retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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Hi, Kevin Coupe here and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy…

A story that I have told from time to time is about how Mrs. Content Guy and I once came close to divorce. (Spoiler alert: We’ve been married more than 36 years, this happened about 34 years ago, and it may be fair to suggest that I’m being mildly hyperbolic.)

It all had to do with a grill. We’d just bought our house, and it was time to get a grill for the backyard. Mrs. Content Guy and I went to the store and bought one that we had to bring home and build; I was dubious because I don’t know how to build anything, have no talent for or interest in such things, but Mrs. Content Guy thought it would be a fun thing to do

To my recollection I didn’t quote Westley from The Princess Bride - “As you wish” - but I could’ve and should’ve. (Fans of the movie will get my meaning.)

Anyway, we brought the grill home and one bright morning we opened the box in the garage and started to build it, encouraged by the fact that the box said we could do it in just a few hours.

Maybe 12 hours later, the sun had gone down and the garage was illuminated by a solitary dim bulb … and we were still building the damned grill. When we finally were done - Mrs. Content Guy had been handing me things and telling me what to do with them, and I’d been following her directions - she held up a bag of gizmos and said, “What are these for?” It ended up that these were washers that you needed to hold the grill together and so we had to slowly take it apart and put the washers on.

It all was enough to make me question the wisdom of marriage.

Over the years we’ve had a series of grills, and since then we’ve always had it built by the retailer and delivered. No argument, no discussion.

Recently we were in need of a new grill, and I decided that I’d try something I had not before - I went on Amazon, which not only had the Weber grill I wanted, but also would come to the house and build it. For free.

The price was competitive, the offer was irresistible. So I ordered it. In a few days, it showed up. The next day, Omar - who told me he was an independent contractor used by Amazon for such projects - came to the house and built by grill. He was so great that I’m going to use him for other stuff for which I have no capacity nor interest. (It is a long list.)

The lesson is this: It seems to me that Amazon sees almost limitations as it designs and grows its ecosystem. This was something that I never would’ve expected it to do, and I only went on the site out of idle curiosity. But they made an offer that closed the deal. Fast. And I was utterly satisfied.

The implication: If you are going to compete with Amazon, you have to have some understanding for how far it will go and how much it will do to capture and keep a customer. You may have a different value proposition and a completely different set of company values, but you have to appreciate the depth and breadth of Amazon’s commitment to keeping customers happy. And returning. Again and again and again, and it puts into place the building blocks of persistent and sustained relationships with its shoppers.

That’s what is on my mind this morning, and, as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

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