The future of shopping is, quite simply, not shopping.

Today’s shoppers expect retailers to understand them: to anticipate what they need before they need it, and deliver it frictionlessly — as if the store is a trusted acquaintance. The technology and data that makes this possible should be invisible to the buyer, and the journey from “I know what I want” to “I’ve got it” should require a single click — or no click at all.

It’s this dynamic — the use of technology and data to create a relationship with the customer — that’s at the heart of what we call Relationship Commerce. When it’s done right, Relationship Commerce helps retailers become an indispensable part of their customers’ lives – driving higher LTV, better customer loyalty, and lower churn.

Amazon, with its relentless focus on customer experience, has turned that new dynamic into a super power. Amazon Prime, Dash, Subscribe & Save, Alexa, Echo, Kindle, Pantry… they all serve the same purpose: to make ordering, and reordering, on Amazon completely frictionless.

For those who lack the resources and data of Amazon, Relationship Commerce can be challenging. Doing it right requires the ability to frictionlessly combine consumer data, machine-learning algorithms, and market expertise with POS, CRM, and ecommerce systems. But the choice of whether to embrace it isn’t really a choice at all. Fulfilling – and exceeding – customer needs in the digital age requires more than a simple transaction. It requires a relationship. Retailers that fail to grasp this are already lost.