OK, can we all agree that at this point, Amazon is just running up the score? As if the unprecedented success of the company's Amazon Prime loyalty program wasn't enough, the company continues to add soft benefits to Prime by offering exclusive access to its Prime members. This week, the focus is on the UK, as Amazon adds exclusive access to members-only live music concerts. If successful, the company will roll out the benefit internationally. Let's face it: It's Amazon's world, and we're all just living in it.
By Rick Ferguson
First up in the roll-out of Amazon's Prime Live Events: A members-only concert by the New Wave rock band Blondie at London's Round Chapel on May 23. Tickets go on sale this Thursday, with a venue limit of 750 people – making this gig among the most intimate that Blondie has played since their days throwing down with the Ramones and Television at CBGB in the 1970s. If you can't make the concert or get shut out of ticket sales, Amazon will also stream the event on Prime Video. And later this year, Prime Live Events will host similar concerts by Alison Moyet, Texas and Katie Melua.
If this latest move has you wondering how any retailer can now compete with Amazon Prime, you're not alone. Money quote from digital consultancy Salmon executive Hugh Fletcher, courtesy of the Independent
"This new venture is yet another service to Amazon's arsenal, widening its plans for not only retail supremacy, but lifestyle and entertainment too. It is further evidence of Amazon's desire to own as many interfaces with the customer as possible – be that shopping, content viewing, or music. Retailers need to revolutionise their own offering to combat leaders like Amazon."
You don't say! The simple truth is that, while this particular soft benefit may only appeal to a subset of Amazon Prime users, the retailer continues to demonstrate its commitment at every turn to making that $99 annual fee a no-brainer for Amazon customers. In the UK, it's adding exclusive events. In the US, it's adding Prime Now delivery to subscribers via Alexa voice-odering capabilities – including, in my hometown of Cincinnati, OH, the ability to voice-order beer and wine delivery.
How can retailers hope to compete? Even major national retailers will struggle to add customer benefits on the scale that Amazon is offering them. And yet, you don't have to yet admit defeat and polish up your CV in preparation for asking Jeff Bezos for a job.
Instead, try asking your own best customers what benefits will most fortify the sense of trust, commitment, and reciprocity they feel for you. Add as many benefits as your budget and financial projections will allow. To the extent that you can, go local – even Amazon can't be everywhere at once. Enhancing a customer relationship by providing access to truly local events allows you personalize a relationship in a way that a Blondie concert in London can't match. Instead of trying to beat Amazon, learn from them – and where you can, counterprogram against them. It may be Amazon's world – but there's room for all of us to enjoy valuable relationships with our best customers.
Rick Ferguson is CEO and Editor in Chief of the Wise Marketer Group.