Over the years, Amazon has become a behemoth retailer that has forced numerous previously successful businesses to close up shop. Retailers both large and small have experienced difficulty keeping up with what Amazon can offer consumers. But what exactly is that? Why do consumers seem to be flocking to the online marketplace? And how can you compete?
The truth of the matter is you won’t be able to directly compete with Amazon at their game. If you want to hold your own against them, you’ll need to rewrite the rules in your favor. Specific aspects that are inherent to Amazon’s business model will make it impossible for them to take advantage of specific strategies, this is where you gain the advantage.
Curate Your Products (And Content)
Amazon offers a nearly incomprehensible number of products to their customers and the sheer vastness of of their inventory can be one of their weaknesses. While they may have everything for sale, they can’t excel and be good at everything.
As a smaller retailer though, you have the advantage of curating your product offerings and providing your customers with the best quality product that meets their needs. To the extent you can source and sell something on your site that people cannot easily find on Amazon, it’s in your best interest to do so.
As you find your niche, you’ll be able to dominate Amazon with content marketing. Content marketing is not part of Amazon’s marketing strategy. They buy pay per click (PPC) advertisements, utilize conversion optimization and SEO tactics, claim tons of product verticals, and more. But they don’t really rely on content marketing.
If you utilize content marketing to build brand awareness and rank for relevant keywords, your site will begin to draw in a loyal audience.
Build A Fanbase
There’s something to be said for the power of a loyal and dedicated fanbase. This may best exemplified by GoPro, the camera manufacturer. You can easily buy a GoPro camera on Amazon, but customers don’t get the same experience and engagement as they do when purchasing on GoPro’s website.
Based on these screenshots, you can easily see that GoPro has eliminated the advantage of Amazon for brand fans. The price is the same on both sites and both even offer free 2-day shipping. Knowing this, GoPro’s customers will likely choose to purchase on their site as opposed to Amazon in order to feel a connection with the brand they love. There’s a reason GoPro has 13 million Instagram followers while Amazon only has 983 thousand.
Excel At Customer Service
Because Amazon is such a large company, they cannot provide extraordinary one-on-one customer service experiences with every single patron. But as a smaller retailer, you can. You have the ability to give each and every customer an amazing interaction with a real human. These experiences will help turn customers into brand evangelists that feel connected to your company and value your brand.
As it pertains to customer service, you want to stay small to foster these unique interactions. Focus on cohesion and connection with your customers by providing personal care and being nice about it. Building these relationships will not only benefit your business’s bottom line, but will also help to build your fanbase.
Ramp Up Revenue
Amazon has grown their revenue in a substantial way just by implementing a recurring subscription model for products that most may not have thought of. Their Subscribe and Save option gives customers a small discount in return for setting up automatic and recurring purchases of certain items.
Related: Top E-Commerce Trends for 2017
Amazon also offers Amazon Prime as an annual subscription which offers customers a myriad of benefits including free two day shipping and access to an extensive library of media. As a small retailer, it may seem infeasible to you to utilize this type of recurring model, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. Any form of recurring deliverable warrants a payment model, not just software or large retailers.
Take electric toothbrush company Quip for example. Their model is simple, but recurring. A customer initially purchases a toothbrush, but in the process signs up to receive a new “refill” every three months which contains a new brush head. I bet no one had previously imagined that a toothbrush would be a successful subscription service!
You will win your customer’s heart, and dollars, if you give them something they want before they even ask for it. Take a look at your return policy, shipping policy, and what you’re offering your customers. By exceeding customer expectations you will stand out, not only from Amazon, but from other retailers as well. Here are some ways to pleasantly surprise your customers:
- 30-Day Money Back Guarantee Offering a money back guarantee isn’t a groundbreaking new strategy, but it does single to your customers that you stand behind your product and believe that they will too.
- Free Returns Allowing customers to return products, for any reason, free of charge will delight them. Nothing is more frustrating than ordering a product only to realize it’s the wrong color and being charged $7.99 to return it. Don’t punish your customers and they’ll probably become repeat customers.
- Free Shipping Again, this isn’t groundbreaking, but customers appreciate when you pay for shipping and accept the price of shipping as a cost of doing business online.
- Exclusive Offers Giving your previous customers exclusive discounts or early access to new products makes them feel valued. And a valued customer is likely to result in more revenue.
As you can see, there is really no way you’ll beat Amazon at their game. You will never be able to have as much inventory as they do. You will never have as many customers as they have. But you can successfully overcome the obstacles that Amazon presents by offering your customers something they can’t get at Amazon: hand picked products, a brand they connect with, outstanding customer service, and VIP treatment.
As a small brand you are afforded the opportunity to recognize your customers as individual people and treat them as such. A corporate giant like Amazon will never be able to give each customer that level of attention. Use your size to your advantage.