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How to compete with the Amazon Prime Wardrobe UX

  • 8 mins read
Rob Verheul
by Rob Verheul
Managing Director

Graphite's Managing Director and a BIMA 100 winner. Also on the BIMA Young Talent Council, which is focused on creating a pipeline of future innovators in all areas of digital.

Published on Thursday 14th February 2019

Our Managing Director Rob takes an early look at the latest customer experience innovation from Amazon -‘Amazon Prime Wardrobe’. He highlights some user experience tactics that Amazon are using and considers what other brands could do in order to compete.

I was looking for some Ted Baker shoes last week. Not being familiar with the range, I browsed online to see what styles they have available and how much they might cost. Having tried some on before, I knew fit could be a potential issue, so I was torn between trying to find a store which stocked them and paying a lower price online.

Enter: Amazon Prime Wardrobe

Prime Wardrobe has just launched in the UK, and is Amazon’s answer to the increasingly popular personalised shopping services like Stitch Fix and The Chapar, which send a curated box of clothing to customers on a regular basis, in order that they might try on a range of different clothes, keep what they like, and send back the rest.

UX point no. 1: offering the ability to ‘own’ a product (before paying) is a powerful way for customers to attribute value and emotional connection to the product, meaning they’re less likely to send it back. See more on the endowment effect.

In Amazon’s version, the customer selects their own range and returns those which aren’t wanted. They are then charged 7 days later. Their aim is to give users control in order that fit is not a concern in the online ordering process.

The Ordering Experience

I hadn’t realised that Amazon even offered Ted Baker shoes until a Google search revealed the particular style I was looking for in the top of the Google Shopping results. They also had the lowest price.

Amazon Wardrobe Ordering Process 2

Naturally, I clicked through.

Amazon Wardrobe Shoe Purchase

On closer inspection on the landing page, the shoes were available with each size and colourway attracting a different price. The lowest price was available on the least desirable colour and in an unusual size. However, the style and colour I fancied were still cheaper than I’d seen elsewhere; so I pressed on.

UX point number 2: Offer a range of prices in order to appear at the top of the Google shopping results.

On landing on the product listing page, I noticed ‘Try before you buy for 7 days’. This sounded interesting. It is being offered as a benefit to ‘Prime’ Customers only. (Amazon already have a trusted relationship with their Prime customers and access to their purchase and payment history.) As a Prime subscriber, you can add to basket, and are taken to the Amazon Prime Wardrobe landing page. It asks you to order at least three items, and no more than eight. I would ordinarily only try two options, however, it’s free to try more, right? So this encouraged me to order more.

Amazon Wardrobe Ordering Process

Searching for more items and returning to the Wardrobe landing page, I later find out that the more I spend, the more Amazon offer in terms of reductions. As a customer I don’t rationally want to buy more, however, Amazon is making it seem logical, and a good opportunity.

UX point number 3: They are encouraging customers to try more (and spend more) through the user experience. Appealing to customers both emotionally and rationally through the design and the discount.

After exploring the vast array of style and of sizing options, I ‘check out’ and set in motion the slick delivery operation that we’re accustomed to.

The Unboxing and Fitting Experience

Amazon Wardrobe Parcel

Delivered the next day, the packaging and boxes were quickly unpacked, and I noticed whilst doing so, that each shoe box was packed differently. Clearly some of the products had been returned by other customers before me and it seems like Amazon isn’t re-packing every box upon receipt. This was of minor impact, but did stand out. Those which had been untouched were beautifully presented, and the others - less so. I did wonder how many times the products were going to be delivered to people  before they were unable to be sold.

UX point no. 4: If offering returns, make sure things are re-packaged well before being sent out again for optimum customer experience.

After trying on the shoes I found that the smaller size wasn’t quite right, and the colour I’d chosen wasn’t for me. I visited Amazon again and tried to order a new range. I find that you can’t have more than one Amazon Prime wardrobe order at home, at one time.

I ended up paying for a few more shoes to be delivered with my normal Prime account. I was happier with the new ones and selected to keep one pair of the new ones, and none from my Amazon Prime wardrobe delivery. With just a few clicks and some clear instructions on how to use the supplied label, the other shoes were off back to Amazon. No questions asked.

Stand-out components in the User Experience

Amazon has been mentioned in our blogs more than a few occasions (see How to Innovate like Amazon and Why Businesses Struggle to Personalise Products) due to its constant innovation and relentless disruption, and it continues to attract more and more of the UK consumer spending market. So, how remarkable is Amazon Prime ? Here are three of the customer experience improvements over competitors...

Flexibility

One of the key benefits of Amazon’s service is to make returns not only simple but expected, it’s part of the service. Leaning into the idea (proven by research) that returns policy leniency increases the likelihood of purchase - explored in this research.

Pricing

For many years Amazon has been training customers to believe that their prices are the best, indeed 64% of consumers in a recent study choose to shop at Amazon on the basis of price. In the Amazon Prime Wardrobe experience, consumer confidence in pricing value was reinforced in two moments - the Google advert, and additional discounts for spending more.

Stock

When buying shoes in a store, after finding the sales assistant, you usually have to wait whilst they check for the size in stock. With Amazon Prime Wardrobe, they’re able to offer every product in every style and size - even half sizes and are very clear about when they expect more stock too. This is hard to compete with, due to storage restrictions in store.

What can others offer?

There’s no doubt that consumers are switching to the internet to buy. A recent study showed online accounted for 17.4% of all retailing in the UK, in March 2018, compared with 15.9% in March 2017 (Office for National Statistics report).

And as the trend (presumably) continues, retailers are going to have to invest - strong pricing strategies and optimised logistics for starters. There are  customer experience opportunities that will allow other operators to differentiate from Amazon:

Brand experience

If you’re a well-known retail brand you can nurture your relationships with existing customers through personalised communications, and invest in creating genuine loyalty, to keep customers coming back. Harvey Nichols (a Graphite client) is creating a ‘digital first’ loyalty programme, to do just that.

Physical locations

Click and collect is a fantastic customer experience innovation, offering flexibility for the customer and an opportunity to immerse them in your brand. When seamlessly integrated into your digital experience, it can be very powerful. Schuh, for example, offer ‘pick up within the hour’ from your local store when ordering via your mobile.

And…experiences

Some consumers want to support their local town or high street. As a local or national brand you need to give customers a reason to engage with you and to come and visit a store. Develop a seamless multi-channel customer experience in order to make life simpler and easier for customers. Department store John Lewis is following a strategy to offer inspirational and personalised in-store experiences to customers. Their Oxford store offers over 21 different services including personalised styling for men.

Graphite work with retailers and other clients to help them improve customer experiences and create engagement. We often start work with a design sprint. A design sprint can help you ideate, create a prototype and test with users in as little as 5 days. Find out more about design sprints. Or contact us.