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The ancestor of every action is a thought
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Amazon Drucker

“The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous”. I came across this quote and stopped in my reading tracks. First reading of the quote, it sounded ridiculous. Selling/advertising is to many the most visible and essential component of marketing. How can you move product without selling it? On the second reading, I thought these nine words actually summarise what marketing is all about. If they weren’t  the words of Peter Drucker I possibly wouldn’t have thought too hard about it and reached this reflection. Drucker is a recognised management guru, having written and sold many books on the subject.  What Drucker is saying is: if you know your customer that well you will have the product or service they want when they want it, no sell required. Impossible to achieve! However, if you do it better than your competitors you are arguably more likely to succeed. Where is this all going? The world’s most valuable brand now has a presence in Australia – Amazon. Yes, a brand more valuable than Google! Amazon, among other things, is a retailer with net sales of US$177.9 billion. A retailer that because of your buying history and the information you’ve shared about yourself anticipates what you might want next to buy and offers it automatically, to your door if you accept. No selling involved. Should local retailers be concerned? Apparently no, with Amazon’s impact so far in Australia being described as underwhelming. However, I suggest only a fool would choose to ignore the impact Amazon will eventually have on existing traditional retailers. How should local retailers respond? First, not bury their heads in the sand about anything Amazon, run towards it not away from it. Second, genuinely start collaborating with other businesses, possibly including Amazon. As an individual business it does look daunting competing against a company that has a US$10 billion global marketing budget, but a shop local message can resonate with shoppers, off-line as well as on-line. All singing from the same hymn sheet will make it easier to achieve though. Third, invest in technology to get to know your customer better. Aim to make selling superfluous. Fourth, give what Amazon will not, provide awesome human to human customer service; in the shop, over the phone, online, even after shopping hours.  Look at your current customer conversion rate, aim to improve it by 10%. Fifth, do a brand audit of your business. Be totally honest, does everything about your business create an environment that attracts more customers? “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity”, Peter Drucker. Amazon is changing Australian retail, treat it as an opportunity and act like an entrepreneur not just a retailer. Bricks and mortar shopping is not dead, just look at Bunnings new Rockhampton store. You have to keep innovating though. Look at ways to grow your market and business, not shrink to just survive. Develop an umbrella region brand that people (locally and internationally) search for and demand, including when talking to Amazon Alexa, because of its reputation for quality, cleanliness, innovation and value. Perhaps Amazon could help this to be achieved, rather than quash it.

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