Whether or not you think Amazon Prime Day was worth the hype, the entire retail industry was ready for it to kick-off on Monday at 3:00 pm. Prime Day is now cemented in the pantheon of shopping holidays – right up there with Cyber Monday and other leading e-commerce events. In true Amazon fashion, the entire Internet was buzzing about the deals they were planning to scoop up. But there was a problem: despite all the hype, most visitors spent more time viewing pictures of cute puppies than they did actually scoring deals.

dogs of Amazon

Unfortunately, the problem Amazon faced this week is one encountered by retail brands far too often of late: customer expectations that outpace the actual customer experience.

Consider the “early access” period for Nordstrom’s annual Anniversary Sale. The Nordstrom brand enjoys a well-earned reputation for revolutionary retailing, and the company never rests when it comes to customer service. Like Amazon, the Nordstrom marketing team did a great job creating buzz around their big sale; also like Amazon, Nordstrom’s site had issues and was down for several hours during the peak period.

Rounding out these retail mishaps, let’s not forget the “pay your age” Build-a-Bear PR nightmare that left kids across the country waiting in enormous lines only to leave empty handed.

Build-a-Bear retail PR nightmare

Even the old adage, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” offers but cold comfort to retailers operating in an age where customers value experience over nearly all other factors.

These adventures in shopping made us wonder whether it really is true: do shoppers place priority value on the actual buying experience over the rest of their shopping journey?

We are here to tell you… Yes. Yes, they do.

In fact, Engageware is right now crunching the data from our most recent consumer survey, and customer experience is the clear winner when respondents were asked about their purchase decisions overall. This typically means getting shoppers into the store, where most respondents pointed to personalized attention from a knowledgeable store associate as the number one thing missing from their shopping experience – not price or product selection.

During these store visits, according to our data, many shoppers would actually be willing to pay more, if they could count on personalized help. This level of engagement it turns out makes shoppers happier and more satisfied with their purchase decision. The result? They will spend more during their visit and are much more likely to stay loyal to that store and brand as a result.

Staying true to their reputation, Nordstrom quickly put the customer first and addressed their challenges head on by offering reward incentives to anyone who may have been affected by the problems. Amazon took a bit less proactive approach.

Amazon Prime Day a bust

When all the sales are over, the numbers will tell us what truly wins customers’ hearts: good deals or good service. Customers will always be attracted to a reduced price, but ongoing loyalty requires retail brands to deliver a positive, highly personal experience, every time.

Happy shopping!

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