Table of Contents
As globalisation continues to shape the current economy, various companies are now striving to reach customers worldwide through e-commerce businesses. The coming of the Internet completely changed how people engage in business today, and hence businesses must also adapt to the changes (Chaffey, 2007). The consumer behaviour has also changed because of the coming of the Internet and smart devices, and now people want to be having services at their point of comfort. The coming of the e-commerce business responded to this consumer need by offering an opportunity for people to shop at their comfort zones and have the items delivered to their doorsteps. Various companies have launched online shopping websites encouraging a serious competition between the main players in the industry (Damanpour and Damanpour, 2001). Due to the stiff competition experienced in the e-commerce industry, companies must ensure that they employ various strategies to have a competitive advantage over other players in the industry (Mellahi and Johnson, 2000). One of the main strategies used by the e-commerce players is to provide high-quality customer service through website design, after sale services and customer engagement (Molla and Licker, 2005). The paper herein looks at the various strategies used by the major players in the commerce industry to remain afloat in the industry that is continuously growing to be competitive. The paper examines the operating strategies of Amazon and Walmart e-commerce companies to find out how they are responding to the changing consumer needs. The paper looks at the customer journey in both websites and gives a discussion of the importance of each step in giving the company a competitive advantage.
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Background Information about Walmart and Amazon
Walmart Company started small with a single discount store and an idea of selling more for less as the main business strategy. Fifty years later, the company is now among the largest retail corporations in the world. The company now operates in more than twenty-eight countries across the world. The company also operates an e-commerce website that operates in eleven countries. Walmart has two e-business websites called Walmart.com and Jet.com that operate in the eleven countries across the world. The company’s founder and CEO Marc Lore supervise both the two websites. The sites have grown significantly over the past few years competing with the giant online shopping retailer the Amazon.
Amazon is one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world. Jeff Bezos founded the company in 1994 as an online bookstore and later diversified to sell other items such as DVDs, clothing and electronics. The company now operates in many countries selling a variety of products ranging from electronics to foodstuff. Amazon is now the leading online shopping website in the world followed by Walmart.
Price and variety are the key strategies that Walmart uses to remain competitive in the online shopping industry. The company sells quality goods at fairly low prices hence giving customers value for their money. Amazon also offers a variety of service to their customers including online books, DVDs and other products categories which have made a popular online shopping platform. The companies have incorporated new technologies to make the shopping experience more pleasant and better for the customers whose priority lies in the quality of the services offered. The companies also offer the customers the ability to choose from various products making the purchasing decision easier. The main strengths of the Walmart website are easy to navigate, having product information, easy payment method and the prompt delivery services. Just like Walmart Amazon also relies on easy navigation, provision of variety and easy payment as its business strategy.
The customer journey through the Walmart and Amazon websites from the decisions to purchase from the website to the point of receiving the product is similar on various aspects with differences mainly on simple display features. The first step is to search “Walmart.com” or “Amazon.com” on the browser. The customer is then required to create an account that on the website including his or her details. After creating an account, the customer has the opportunity to browse through the products and find the desired product.
Fig. 1 Amazon Account Creation of Sign in Platform (https://www.amazon.com/ap/signin)
The website has a search engine that allows the customer to search his or her desired product. The search engine is customised to make searching easy by filtering the products by categories such as video and audio electronics, home and décor, fashion and beauty among others. The categories are also meant to allow the customer to make a comparison between products of the same category and make decision based on the product that fits their needs.
Fig.2 Amazon Website showing the Search Engine (https://www.amazon.com/)
The products also have review and specifications that give the customer all the important information about the product. The customer can then add the chosen product to his or her cart and continue shopping until he or she is done. Reviewing the cart and then Checking out are the following stages. In Reviewing the Cart, the customer can edit the quantities and physical descriptions of the items as desired and or remove the undesired product that was previously selected. After verifying the products, the customer then checks out. On both websites, the shipping option allows the customer to select the mode of delivery which includes delivery to the doorstep or pickup from one of the Walmart authorised stores. The shipping methods have options that allow the client to choose the shipping speed and mode as well as the wrapping for the order. The customer can also select the nearest store pickup from the available list of stores. Finally, the last stage is to choose the payment method that is convenient for the customer. After choosing the payment method, the customer submits the order and waits for the delivery.
Analysis of the Findings
The essence of having e-commerce business is to improve the shopping experience for consumers by allowing them to buy products at the comfort of their computers and phones (Molla and Licker, 2005). The customer is the key factor to consider in building an online shopping website. First, the e-commerce website should be developed to ensure that it makes shopping easier than shopping at the brick and mortar stores Mohapatra (2013) as highlights. The customer should have the opportunity to easily find the desired product at the best price, make payments and have the item delivered. At both Amazon and Walmart, the customer is at the centre of the development of the shopping websites with ninety percent of the features made to improve the experience of the customers. For example, Walmart has a search engine that can be filtered to search products with similar specifications allowing the customer to make a comparison between various brands before deciding on the one to purchase. The website is also easy to navigate with a straightforward procedure for placing an order making the shopping experience for customers easy and enjoyable (Wamba et al., 2008). Amazon also offers product reviews and specification information which is important to customers as they make decisions on what product suits their needs. Amazon provides an opportunity for customers a platform to review products as a way of driving sales. In most cases, customer reviews are considered as one of the best marketing strategies (Brown and Dant, 2014). Yanrong (2013) also asserts that the product description also acts as an important marketing tool that allows customers to understand the details of the product before deciding to part with their money.
The images of the products on the online shopping website are important in driving sales (Mistry, 2001). The images should be of high quality to give the customer a clear view of the physical and aesthetical appearance of the product. The images should show all the features of the product and be displayed in a manner that is eye-catching to lure the customers (Mulpuru, Harteveldt and Roberge, 2011). Amazon website has high-quality images of the products sold on its website giving the customer an easy time when looking at the desired product.
Fig. 3 Walmart Website showing High Quality Product Images with their prices (https://www.walmart.com/)
An easy and secure payment method is also one of the key factors that determine the success of an online shopping website (Damanpour and Damanpour, 2001). The checkout stage is one of the last stages of the online transaction, and it is important to make the payment method as easy as possible. The payment method should not require the customer to have additional requirements but should include the locally available payment methods. Having several payment methods is also an essential aspect of making the payment process easy. Both Walmart and Amazon have various payment methods that allow people to pay and checkout easily. The companies offer their customers variety of payment methods to make the process easy.
E-commerce involves the use of the internet to sell and buy products across the world. The e-commerce industry has been growing over the years since the coming of the Internet with many companies coming up. The e-commerce industry continues to grow, and the increased competition requires various strategies to keep the companies relevant in the industry (Lee, 2001). The customer should be a central factor to consider while developing an online shopping website. The website should be built to make the shopping experience for the customer better and to promote quality customer service. According to Filson, (2004), the site should be designed to offer freedom to the customer to choose the product, the payment method and the delivery method as a way of engaging them. Simplicity in the design of the websites is one of the critical factors that make it successful as customers from all backgrounds can be able to use it comfortably.
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