Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon is an engaging speaker as evident yesterday at the ShopSmart Magazine, Consumer Reports Summit. Greg and I were invited guests. The day began in a small conference room with about 40 attendees and a panel of experts in the shopping community – Stephanie Brocoum, Vice President of Marketing RueLaLa.com, Ben Kaufman, Founder and CEO Quirky.com, and Matthew Weathers, Vice President of Product ShopSavvy.mobi. The panel was officiated by Lisa Freeman, Editor-in-Chief, Shop Smart magazine.
“Consumers are empowered and businesses are listening.” Stephanie of Ruelala.com
The panel covered social shopping and influence customers are having to drive traffic and sales to sites. Word of mouth marketing is at it’s best when someone makes a purchase or discovers a new a site, and tells their friends. They tell their friend, and they tell their friends, and so on and so on. Some of these sites represented grew large just through viral “word of mouth” from customers without a lot of marketing or advertising on their part. The bottom line, have a good product or service and let the public spread the word.
Another big topic of conversation was how consumers love to brag about their purchases or as Matthew Weathers said, “everyone believes they are a bargain shopper.” If a site like RueLaLa.com has a designer handbag at an awesome price at 11 am each day and it sells out in 15 minutes then the shopper feels they have snagged a bargain and wants to share it. It’s like, ha ha, guess what I got and you didn’t. Because 95% of their customers are women you know this drives the other women crazy and they have to get in on the next deal so they aren’t left out.
After lunch we went to a larger room. The 40 of us got to sit in the front of the room in reserved seats while the rest of the room filled in with Consumer Reports employees. All in all there were around 400 people in the room. There were cameras and video equipment and the stage was set with the Consumer Reports backdrop. Within a few minutes Jeff Bezos came to the stage and it began.
Jeff answered questions about representatives from Consumer Reports on best practices, scams, how to protect yourself online, and was generally engaging, very personable and at times, funny. It was a delight to hear him speak.
Amazon.com had 9 billion in sales in the 1st quarter and has transformed the way people shop, said Jeff Bezos.
Amazon is long-term oriented to help you make purchase decisions. That is why they allow negative comments. They might lose you in the short term but they build your trust and you will keep coming back. Trust is everything in business.
Jeff sees mobile shopping as the next thing that is coming to retail.
I was 1 of the 15 people to ask him a question and I got to ask 2. I asked if they would be bringing more features and coupons back to the Amazon Moms program (representing the Moms out there and readers who gave me the question) and if Amazon would be dropping states who had the new affiliate tax (representing the bloggers out there).
His answer on the Amazon Moms program is that they love moms and he is a family man himself with 4 kids under the age of 11 and that they are always working on new ideas for this program. He didn’t have any specifics to tell me and didn’t know what the Amazon Mom team was working on.
The answer for the affiliate question is unfortunately yes. He said that people who make a living off of the Amazon affiliate program would most likely pick up and move to another state. It’s not the best solution but it is a choice they might have to make. He also said that most Amazon affiliates usually have other affiliate programs they are working with so doesn’t affect their whole income.
Amazon is always working to improve their service and he said that “the best customer service is that the customer doesn’t need to call you in the first place.” Amazon wants to raise the entire bar on customer service. Will it ever be perfect, no, but nothing ever is.
After Jeff’s talk I grabbed a couple of other bloggers, Mercedes from Common Sense with Money, and Erin from Frugal Living @ About.com, and we headed to the line to talk with Jeff. After a short wait we got a picture with him. It’s like we all dressed for the day because we matched so perfectly
The day continued back in the smaller conference room with the original 40 attendees and another panel. This time we heard from Ron Lieber, Columnist and Editor at The New York Times, Meg Marco Executive Editor Consumerist.com, and Tracey Thomas, Attorney from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Ron spoke on how everyone has the right to a free credit report and the right to freeze their credit. Freezing your credit report is the best weapon to protect against identity theft.
He went on to say that you should never use debit cards online to make your purchases. Once the cash is out of your account it is very hard to dispute and get any of it back. If you use a credit card you can dispute the purchase even before you have to pay the bill. You have 60 days to dispute a purchase.
Another suggestion was to use a fraud alert to warn you if something is happening with your accounts. This requires a company to ask for more information before opening an account while freezing your account locks it down and takes longer to open.
You can get your free credit report at one site only, annualcreditreport.com
Once this engaging panel was over we broke up into smaller groups and went on private tours through some of the Consumer Reports testing labs.
It was a wonderful day. We learned so much about the current shopping environment and where things are headed. We enjoyed hearing all of the guest speakers and each one had valuable information to give out. Meeting other bloggers was definitely a bonus too.