I guess this isn’t really only about Amazon and GAP and more about why innovative retailers (largely online) are killing the household brands which tend to derive a vast majority of their revenues from brick and mortar stores. However you only have to look at H&M and Uniqlo to see that once traditional and homegrown brands can take the world by storm with tremendous growth.
This is an email I received from GAP customer service and I wonder if you can guess what the original message was;
Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding your Gap Visa card, and the opportunity to be of service to you.
Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this matter may have caused you.
We appreciate you as a valued Gap Visa Card customer. If you have any questions or if we may be of further assistance, please contact us via the Online Message Center.
I don’t think if you tried could you construct a more generic response than that one. You could probably send this no matter what the question or comment, no matter whom the sender and ultimately reuse the same message if one decided to respond to this message.
The short story was my GAP credit card was due to expire and like all credit or debit cards when such an event happens you expect in the last month or two prior to that date to be sent a new card. Now if you are a retailer the fact you have a customer who has this card makes them more likely to spend at your store, someone you can more intelligently send marketing materials too and a person you have already done the hard work and any cost of converting them to a credit card customer, which incidentally is another profitable revenue stream.
I received no new credit card and once I logged back into my account I found out that it was closed out with no warning. (GAP incidentally said they sent a warning but a week before the card was due to expire and during the holidays when both mail is slow at best and/or people are away – which I was).
So I sent an email from my now closed account to GAP voicing my feedback at this practice and the fact that now not having the card makes me very unlikely to shop there at all, particularly when better and cheaper clothes are found in store at H&M and Uniqlo, let alone online on Amazon and elsewhere. Then of course I received the above famous response.
Now compare that experience with Amazon which is perennially ranked highest in Customer Satisfaction ratings despite the fact very few of its millions of customers having ever seen an Amazon employee in person or via audio or video. My partner Yvonne received a gift purchased on Amazon by a friend. She has decided to return said item and just went online and Amazon gave her a code and address to return the items and she gets a full refund or credit despite the fact she was not the purchaser.
Basically Amazon has taken a difficult situation we all have faced and are conditioned to feel is annoying and usually resulting in non desirable outcomes and made it simple and ideal whereas GAP has taken a basic situation and made it revolting.
In today’s world regardless of the item you were purchasing, the price point or the nature of your communication, which establishment are you likely to frequent again (and again and again). Personalization matters in today’s world and even better service when it comes to your repeat or premium customers as there are no better evangelists and marketing for your brand.
Incidentally GAP after consolidating and downsizing and some remodeling didn’t have a bad year financially in 2013 after many years of bad performance. Given there are clearly better brands, better value clothes and better customer service experiences, does anyone seriously think that we will be shopping at the GAP in 2020?
Whether your are GAP, JC Penney, Barney’s, Sear’s, etc. treating your customers like a generic number or worse in both a Amazon customer service and Facebook social world is akin to spending your company’s entire marketing budget on newspaper ads …..
No-one will see it and the best use for the ad itself might be to scoop up dirt or a dead cockroach around your house.