“Amazon was responsible for 37.6% of US eCommerce spending in 2023 — a figure which is expected to rise by another 11.7% in 2024.”

Imagine starting a business in your garage, hoping it might someday make a splash. Now picture that business not just succeeding, but revolutionizing an entire industry and becoming a global powerhouse. This is the story of Amazon.com, a company that began as a modest online bookstore and has since expanded to outstrip major retailers like Walmart, boasting over three times their revenue. Such a feat was perhaps beyond even Jeff Bezos’ wildest dreams when he laid Amazon’s foundation.

But what does Amazon’s unprecedented success mean for the rental industry and small business owners? From the importance of customer-centricity to the power of technological innovation, Amazon’s journey offers numerous lessons that can be adapted and applied to the rental industry. In this blog, we’ll explore how adopting a customer-first mindset, leveraging technology, and embracing online engagement can not only enhance a rental business’s operations but also position it for long-term growth and success.

Customer portal service

Takeaway #1: At Amazon, the Customer is King

How Does Amazon Treat Customers?

If you’re running a business, you’ve probably been told about the importance of great customer service more times than you can count. But it’s one of those truths that can’t be overstated. If you want to stand out from competitors, it all boils down to how you treat your customers. 

What sets Amazon apart is its unwavering commitment to the customer experience. It’s not just a part of their business; it’s the heart of it. Every role at Amazon, from the top executives to the frontline staff, is focused on making the customer’s day better. This is what we call being ‘customer-centric.’ It’s not just about responding to customer needs; it’s about anticipating them, understanding them deeply, and going above and beyond to meet them where they are.

Think about it – when you order something from Amazon, you expect fast delivery, a vast selection, competitive prices, and a no-hassle return policy. They’ve set these high standards in the online shopping world, and now customers expect the same from other businesses. So what can you do as a rental business to keep up with these high expectations?

Strategies for Keeping Up with Amazon’s Customer Service

Trying to keep pace with a giant like Amazon might seem like chasing the wind for a small business. But don’t sweat it! You don’t have to go head-to-head with them. Instead, let’s take a more relaxed approach. We’ll first explore what makes Amazon’s strategy a hit, and then we’ll chat about how you can weave some of that magic into your own business practices. 

Amazon’s philosophy revolves around making every aspect of the customer experience as convenient and positive as possible. One key example of this is their easy return policy. Amazon allows customers to return most items within 30 days of receipt for a full refund, making the process hassle-free by providing prepaid return labels and multiple return options. 

But customers of rental companies can’t exactly “return” a rental, can they? In the rental business, the concept of returns doesn’t translate directly, especially once a service or item has been used. However, there’s a valuable lesson here in focusing on customer convenience. For rental businesses, this translates into making the rental experience as seamless and worry-free as possible. This can involve a variety of strategies:

  • Be transparent with your customers, and stay consistent with your terms. Clearly communicate rental terms, including any fees or policies regarding cancellations or changes. This transparency builds trust, much like Amazon’s clear return policy. Don’t know where to start? Check out our blog “The Importance of Equipment and Party Rental Contracts in 2024”, where we dive into how you can write rental contracts that are transparent for customers and protect your business at the same time.
  • Be ready to assist and solve problems quickly. This includes having a knowledgeable and accessible customer service team, echoing Amazon’s commitment to prompt and helpful customer support. Focus on bringing in folks who not only know their stuff but are also dedicated to your vision of putting customers first. And here’s a great hack – automate those routine emails. Things like order confirmations, payment acknowledgments, and delivery details can be set to send automatically. This not only saves you time but also keeps your customers in the loop, giving them peace of mind that their order is being handled attentively. It’s about balance – let technology handle the routine, while your team focuses on personalized, meaningful interactions.
  • Encourage your customers to leave reviews about their experience with your business. This can be achieved by sending follow-up emails or notifications asking for feedback. Ensure that the review process is simple and user-friendly by using familiar websites like Yelp and Google reviews. Not only is customer feedback great for improving your services, but it’s also great for marketing! Remember, this is about picking up cues from the best and adapting them in a way that works for you, not about trying to out-Amazon Amazon!
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Man buying on Amazon

Takeaway #2: Amazon is Efficient – Because of Technology

Amazon isn’t just successful because of the company’s attitude toward customer service; it’s also because this titan is not afraid to invest in cutting-edge technology. 

To prevent issues in the supply chain, Amazon invested in Amazon Monitron, a machine learning system that uses sensors to detect issues in equipment before they become impactful to the machine’s ability to run. By investing in this new technology, Amazon reduced its unplanned equipment downtime hours on equipment monitored by Amazon Monitron by 69 percent

In the rental industry, rental software has stepped in to perform a similar service for businesses. New technology is being developed every day to address inefficiencies in order processing so that rental businesses can increase efficiency and spend less time on repetitive, manual tasks

Here are some features you should be looking for to increase your business’s productivity and profitability:

  • Automated booking: Rental software simplifies the booking process, allowing customers to make reservations online, select their desired items, and check availability in real-time. This automation eliminates the need for manual order entry, reducing the risk of errors and ensuring a seamless experience for your customers.
  • Automated communication: Rental software automates communication with your customers. It can send automated confirmation emails, reminders, and follow-up messages, keeping customers informed and engaged throughout their rental journey.
  • Quick and easy payment: Look for software that offers various payment options, including online payment gateways, which make it convenient for customers to settle their bills. Automated invoicing and payment reminders also ensure that you get paid promptly, reducing the hassle of chasing down payments.
  • Route tracking: For businesses that involve delivery and pickup, software with route tracking is a must. Find software that allows you to schedule your routes and keep track of them all in one platform, reducing the need for back-and-forth.

Investing in software can be daunting, especially for businesses that have stayed afloat without it. But it’s important to remember that technically Amazon functioned before they invested in their technology – just not as efficiently as they could be. However, leaders at Amazon recognized that things could be better, and then they took decisive action that has increased the business’s efficiency tenfold.

Hey, they’re #1 for a reason.

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People using customer portal

Takeaway #3: Put Simply – Amazon is Convenient

Amazon is convenient. Really convenient. 

2-Day shipping? Yes, please! One of Amazon’s hallmarks is the convenience it offers to shoppers by offering an easy shopping experience coupled with a quick turnaround time on orders. This is made possible with a smart online marketplace that connects users to the products they are seeking. And this concept can be directly applied to the rental industry through smart online shops and, yes, marketplaces. 

If you’re asking yourself “Do people want to rent equipment online?”, let us point you to some fun statistics:

The days of calling and emailing to put in orders are coming to an end as a new generation of consumers are entering the marketplace; a generation that is, admittedly, kind of spoiled by the convenience offered by marketplaces like Amazon. However, there are solutions on the market that you can use to keep up with these customers!

Invest in Online Resources for your Customers

Modern customers are obsessed with convenience, so offering a seamless shopping experience is one of the best ways to secure orders and get ahead of the competition. Consider implementing the following strategies into your online marketing approach:

  • Create an online shop: Establishing an online storefront allows rental businesses to showcase their inventory 24/7. It offers customers the flexibility to browse and reserve items at their convenience, leading to increased engagement and potential sales. An online shop also widens the reach of the business, attracting customers who prefer digital interactions over physical visits.
  • List your inventory online: By listing inventory online with detailed descriptions and high-quality images, rental businesses provide clarity and assurance to customers. This transparency reduces the need for back-and-forth inquiries and enhances the overall customer experience.
  • Offer a customer portal: A customer portal serves as a one-stop solution for managing bookings, payments, and queries. It empowers customers with self-service options like tracking their rental status, modifying orders, and accessing support. This convenience can significantly boost customer satisfaction and loyalty!

By incorporating these strategies, you are well on your way to offering a seamless experience to your customers and reaping the benefits that come with it. After all, it’s not just about the customer’s experience; your experience matters too! When you incorporate some of the above strategies, you offload some of the traditional workload of running a business – order updates, customer communication, and outbound sales – from you onto the customer. This will save you time, and allow you to concentrate on the more important aspects of running your business.

Partner with an Online Marketplace

Believe it or not, there are online marketplaces out there diving into the rental game, aiming to give customers the same easy experience they get when shopping on Amazon. Here’s how it works: users can hop on these platforms, search for what they want to rent, toss it into their virtual cart, and bam – the marketplace hooks them up with local vendors. Here are two marketplaces to check out:

  1. Reventals – This marketplace is geared toward event rentals, and works with local vendors to connect them with customers seeking high-quality items for their events. 
  2. BigRentz – This marketplace is geared toward equipment rentals.

Now, let’s talk about why partnering with one of these marketplaces is a smart move. First off, it brings in more customers. These platforms have a ready-made audience of people looking to rent stuff, so you tap into that demand without having to build it all from scratch.

Plus, it gives your customers that Amazon-like experience they’ve come to love. Many corporate buyers prefer marketplaces where they can manage all of their events in one place without having to create accounts with every vendor. For example, if you are a company that hosts festivals in 10 different cities, you don’t live in the towns where the festival will be. Using a marketplace to find rentals they need from reliable vendors is easier than trying to establish relationships in every city. Think about it – seamless browsing, a user-friendly cart system, and easy access to local rental options.

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When You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em!

It’s Amazon’s world, we’re just living in it. 

Just kidding! But when it comes to running a business in the digital age of convenience, struggling will only make you (and your profits) sink. Learn from businesses like Amazon and embrace the fact that you are living in a time of untapped potential. Use it to your advantage, and your business will flourish.

And remember, all jokes have an element of truth to them. 😉

Other blogs you may find helpful

The Ultimate Guide to Pricing Rental Inventory in 2023

All about Tents | 20 FAQ’s on Tent Rentals

The Importance of Equipment and Party Rental Contracts in 2023

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Frequently Asked Questions

Amazon is renowned for its customer-centric approach, efficient use of technology, and convenience. It offers a seamless shopping experience with fast delivery, a vast selection, and an easy return policy, setting high standards in online retail.

An online customer portal is a digital platform where customers can manage their interactions with a business. It typically allows for tracking orders, modifying bookings, making payments, and accessing support, enhancing convenience and autonomy in the customer experience.

A website acts as the online presence of a business, showcasing its products, services, and information to everyone. In contrast, a customer portal is a more personalized and interactive part of the website, designed specifically for customers to manage their interactions with the business. Usually, customers must log into their account in a customer portal and they can use it to track orders, make payments, and contact the business.

Competing directly with Amazon can be challenging for small businesses. However, adopting strategies such as focusing on customer service, leveraging technology, and partnering with online marketplaces can help businesses offer a similar level of convenience and efficiency.