Amazon: How Well Will The Ecommerce King Navigate COVID-19?

Over the last several months, we have all been navigating a new normal created by the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, Amazon's ubiquity in our lives has intensified the brand's essential nature and brought along new controversy from critics.

Much has been written about the breadth and diversity of Amazon's businesses and its dominance. In 2019, nearly 37% of online sales took place on Amazon's platform. Consumers have become increasingly attached to the brand and for the first time, it ranked #1 in our annual Brand Intimacy Study. Brand Intimacy measures the bonds consumers form with brands.

Witnessing Amazon's rise through the ranks demonstrates how the brand has built devotion and delight through a pragmatic drive to create a friction-less shopping experience and value for consumers.

Many brick-and-mortar stores currently are unable to open, and those that are may have queues or carry the burden of protecting patrons and staff from exposure to the virus.

Consumers are feeling the supply shortages and shifting their spending to support their social distancing lives.

Stay-at-home orders are driving a massive increase in online sales, which were up more than 30% between March and mid-April compared to the same period last year.

Amazon, as the largest ecommerce player in the market, is uniquely positioned to gain market share during the pandemic.

What would be interesting to see is if the brand will use this opportunity to foster greater levels of trust and deepen its emotional connection to customers. Can it perform under these challenging times to ensure that we have access to essential goods and find ways to quell critics and detractors?

Amazon has been under fire in recent years related to disputes with municipalities over expansion plans and criticism of the company's labor practices.

Now, as it struggles to maintain timely deliveries in the face of unprecedented, pandemic-driven consumer demand for household essentials, Amazon has appeared tone-deaf to criticisms of its policies and procedures around workplace safety and response to subsequent labor actions by its employees.

By contrast, Walmart unveiled a campaign featuring its workers as "heroes." 

Nonetheless, these unprecedented times have also presented a unique opportunity for Amazon to demonstrate its value and prove that consumers' faith in the brand was well-placed. The company has leveraged its expansive, global infrastructure to ensure delivery of goods and services to customers.

Consumers continue to bond with the brand because of its breadth of offerings, great service, and features like Prime, which have quickly become part of their purchasing rituals. They rely on Amazon, and this is the key to Amazon's success as a brand.

In today's times, Amazon is a trusted source of essentials, of escape and everything in between -- a big responsibility.

Can it continue to deliver?

Amazon will almost certainly come out of this pandemic as one of the strongest brands in the United States, and despite criticism and missteps, its reputation among consumers seems likely to continue to deepen.

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