And…boom. There it is. About an hour ago Mothership Amazon sent me an email announcing they had activated voice ordering for my Amazon Echo. It's here, and perhaps a bit faster than I even imagined in my blog post from 2012 on the future of ecommerce. Back then the story went:
Alex: Siri, my wife said we need diapers.
Siri: You probably mean the Size 3 Swaddlers for Nina. Lesters.com can have them to you tomorrow for $20. Shall I order them?
Alex: Yes, and have them send a gift for my wife.
Siri: They recommend this bracelet to go along with the earrings you bought her last year for your anniversary. Shall I add them to the order?
Alex: Yes, thanks.
Siri: Forever in your service, Alex.
It appears Amazon's offering will be just that easy: "Alexa, re-order laundry detergent" and it shows up on your doorstep 2 days later.
Why does this matter to the rest of us in the ecommerce industry? Because hidden in this experience is the answer to the question, "How do I beat Amazon?" Your retail business only survives and only wins if you make the experience of ordering from you dead easy, dead simple, AND AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT. If you don't, you won't be here in 3 years.
I'm not saying you need the latest voice recognition technology (though it certainly couldn't hurt). But you do absolutely need an online ordering experience that is tailored specifically to your customers, that requires zero training, and is fun to use.
Amazon competes in a completely un-level playing field for most parts of its business. You're probably not going to match their purchasing power, their distribution network, the number of Prime users, and a whole host of other things they do better than the rest. However, the user experience design of your retail website can be specially designed for your products and customers, and that's how you can compete with one-size-fits-all Amazon.
For the moment, I’m going to ask Alexa for that present I promised my wife back in 2012.