Amazon is not infallible, it is not invincible and is not necessarily the cheapest.

The Tuesday, 5 December 2017: the launch in Australia of Amazon marketplace highlighted several deficiencies, inadequacies and vulnerabilities.

Access to the site was not readily achievable, comparison-pricing underscored, so that, in some instances, entities that were utilising the Amazon marketplace channel were more expensive than local bricks and mortar retail outlets.

Delivery standards were not nationally or universally consistent.

Doubtless, many first-time prospective customers left the site disappointed, disillusioned and still in need of products, services and applications.


The Amazon marketplace launch in Australia was a limited opening. Amazon Prime and Fulfilment by Amazon (BBA) were not operating, while access was denied to, which operates from the United States of America.

Partial “soft” and rolling launches are fraught with danger. It’s true, you only ever get one opportunity to create the first impression.

Losses of image, reputation, expectations, sales, referrals and recommendations would have been immediate, and considerable.

Winning back the disenchanted will be less rapid.


For many despairing retailers and prophets of doom it was sobering to realise that, notwithstanding the commencement of Amazon operations in Australia, the earth still turned on its axis and the sun rose in the east.

Hope springs eternal. Competitive edge is still possible for big and small businesses which are committed to lifting their standards, updating their business models, reviewing their pricing policies and establishing, and sustaining the enhanced relationships with existing, prospective and past customers – founded on consistent, high-standard personal customer service.


The prospects for, and subsequent reality of losses to new interlopers like Aldi, Costco, numerous fast fashion outlets and Amazon were, and are the consequences of the poor, inconsistent and impersonal service of existing bricks and mortar and on-line businesses.

In each case the decline in sales, failures and appointments of administrators was simply a matter of time.

Consumer annoyance, frustration and intolerance have increased substantially during the past decade. Local and localised Australian entities were insulated, if not protected, by geographic isolation.

That changed significantly with the advent of on-line channels and digital marketing. Convenience was usurped by access.

Range, choice, power extended beyond physical premises, warehouses and inventories.

A slow, under-resourced and inadequately capitalised uptake of an on-line business model, by long-established and recognised traders, simply lowered the barriers, accelerated the entry of global interlopers and disruptors.

Correspondingly, and in part as a consequence of management inaction, for the first time in over 20 years, price eclipsed branding as the third most important criterion in purchase decision making.

Everything, it seems, has changed, necessitating a total audit of marketing, advertising, merchandising, promotions, selling, service, operating, stocking, pricing and staffing.  


Without question, a primary cause of revenue and patronage leakage to new, often global, entrants is the disturbingly regular instances of negative shopping experiences. Allow me to reiterate a quote from the high-impact, dynamic Business Warfare interactive business development workshop:

            We have met the enemy,

            and they is us.

 Attacking, competing with, and beating Amazon will not, and cannot be achieved by focusing on where Amazon is strongest. That is - low prices, a huge range, house- branded products and services, prompt responses and access.

The best, most immediate and scalable opportunity is personal customer service.

On-line interactions lack the emotional experiences that flow from personalised encounters. They tend to be transactional in nature, with relationships being compromised, loyalty and repeat business a forlorn hope, and everything focused on NOW.


Sadly, opportunities are lost because of service myopia. A narrow orientation on direct, immediate transactional interchanges precludes recognition of, and exploitation of seven key elements of service excellence.

Managing expectations is a fundamental pillar of attracting attention, interest, visitations, sales, revenue and repeat business.

Stimulating intrigue is fulfilling to prospective customers and satisfying for businesses.

Communications, punctuality, consistency and continuity are compelling foundations on which to position brand names, products, services and applications. To do so effectively and efficiently, then formulating, documenting, implementing, monitoring, enhancing and maintaining a genuine service culture is imperative.

Service is integral to the DNA of a business. It is not an add-on. Consistent with the culture itself, service is, could be and should be the force that binds individuals, groups and total entities to the ideals, beliefs and values of customer focus.

A key feature of an integrated and cohesive service culture ensures that two biggest deficiencies of many operations do not evolve. It is these that make companies most vulnerable, and typically, un-performing.


So, businesses survive and thrive in the presence of Amazon. Those that do best, lift their sights, standards and disciplines – to the benefit of all.

Services them right!

Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Service Excellence Facilitation

Customer Service Author

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

T:         9257 1777