“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the Customer first, Innovate, be Flexible.” Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Competition Topics: Unique, Web-site, Easy, Support, Niche, Details, Discounts, Delivery, Passion & 12 more.
Amazon’s Disruption: this A-Team is a brilliant company that has permanently disrupted the retail & other worlds. Even longtime conglomerates like Barnes & Noble, Sears, JCPenny, and countless others have become proverbial Davids to Amazon’s Goliath. And, many businesses haven’t survived. If so many small & big companies alike are being challenged like never before by Amazon, how can any business expect to survive or even thrive with such fierce competition? Is it as simple as learning how to sell on Amazon? Does the company have a secret weakness to exploit?There are no easy Solutions, but there
Why will Amazon affect my Business? (if it hasn’t already) According to the statistics, most businesses know it, yet few seem concerned. But the truth is, Amazon’s competition will affect your business in some way, simply because it will affect the entire eCommerce market. Just think; 43% of all U.S online sales are done through Amazon while 64% of households have a prime account. Amazon isn’t called a market disruptor without reason. But you have the freedom to choose whether it affects your business the worst or for the best.
How does Amazon do it? They focus on ‘low prices, vast selection, & fast delivery’. While the first two selling points are significant enough, fast delivery is something retailers need to take note of in competition.
So what should my Counter-Attack look like? Here are steps you can take, to ensure your company’s long-term success. Here are 10 tips to help your eCommerce or small brick-&-mortar business compete against Amazon:
- Be very Unique.Yes, this sounds like an obvious piece of advice, but it couldn’t be more important in today’s business environment. Amazon sells almost everything, but it doesn’t sell everything. To compete, you’ve got to narrow your Niche and offer something that can’t be found anywhere else. Be the Sole Supplier !!!
- Perfect your Website.If your website is difficult to navigate or simply has an outdated look, users will get frustrated & leave. In 2017 Online revenue increased by15.1%, reaching 8.1% of all retail sales. It might require a little time & attention to improve your website, but you can’t afford not to.
- Make buying Online easy. Even after finding the perfect item, online shoppers will quit the buying process if something gets in their way. For example, if you require would-be shoppers to Login prior to making a purchase, chances are they’ll quit. Make the online shopping experience seamless from start to finish. No competition.
- Provide “killer” Customer Support. Amazon employs nearly 350,000 people worldwide, but none of those people are customer-facing product experts. They can help you with a payment error, or with a delivery time, but they can’t tell you which product is best for you. For all the perks of the Internet, we haven’t replaced the value of talking with an “expert”. Customer service is an area where you can blow Amazon out of the water with very little capital outlay. Add a “live chat”, fill your site with help & advice content, including videos & guides + produce an Email marketing strategy that includes helpful follow-up Emails and regular tips & tricks. At a time when larger companies are minimizing Customer Service and many stores are adopting fulfillment-only models, reversing this trend remains a solid way to beat Amazon’s tactics
- Offer a Niche product. You may feel that Amazon’s broad appeal is what’s dangerous to your business; but if you can find a Niche to exploit, this can be your strength. A small market is much easier to target, to become an expert on and ultimately to become known for. Why not set a bold goal, then aim to be what people think of, when they think of your Niche? It’s achievable, and once you hit this goal your marketing is already done for you.
- Detailed Content. Amazon product listings don’t contain too much detailed information, and if you are a seller, you won’t be able to get too creative with the data media you provide your customers. Take advantage of the freedom that comes with your own Online store and include content which not only helps customers to buy (keyword & content targeting) but also helps build trust and convert a customer once they’re visiting.
Examples of advanced content could be adding several Videos, product Comparison data, advanced tech Specs, product Care information, Sizing diagrams or anything that helps educate your customers without being confined to an image gallery or text.
7. Offer Product Discounts. With Amazon offering very little in the way of product discounts, you can leverage the Discount & Coupon functions of your online business to create incentives for shoppers to come to you. Promote a Coupon Code via your Social Media channels & Email + feature-tiered & bulk discounting + much more.
8. Go Multi-Channel. Amazon by definition is a retail platform which puts it in direct competition with other platforms such as eBay & FishPond, which means you’re the only one who’s going to list your products on multiple services. Going ‘multi-channel’ (sometimes referred to as omni-channel) with your business means listing your products on a variety of platforms helps achieve market saturation.
9. Faster Delivery. Amazon’s promise of fast delivery has already been highlighted, and it remains a huge issue for the typical shopper. Paypal’s recent mCommerce Index report discovered that 42% of shoppers believe that long delivery times negated the point of shopping Online altogether, with the majority saying they would definitely buy Online if “next-day” delivery was available. While next day delivery may not be achievable off the bat, it’s worth doing what you can to decrease shipping times, even it means charging a premium for an express shipping option. Remember, Amazon Prime (Amazon’s next day shipping option) is in itself a premium service.
10. Create a “winning” Returns policy. One of the appeals of Amazon is the lenient Returns policy and the well-oiled system surrounding it. Knowing an item can easily be returned negates one of the drawbacks of Online shipping; not being able to see it, use it or try it on in the flesh. If a customer knows whatever they purchased can be returned easily & cheaply, they are more likely to choose your product over competitors. Consider offering “free” returns over a certain price point, and allowing customers to return via Courier pickup, while providing clear Returns Forms online, + documentation and links in all email correspondence. A smooth Returns service starts before the return itself has begun.
11. Gift Certificates. Amazon does offer Gift Certificates, but they can only be redeemed against their own items & not a marketplace (3rd party seller) items. And although they can be a useful gift for someone, some may argue that a certificate to a certain site is more original + shows more thought. And of course, once a customer has a Gift Certificate they are obliged to start the journey as a customer with you.
12. Offer a Subscription Service (if you can) I’m a huge fan of subscription-based services; in fact, a lot of us are. From subscription media services such as Netflix & Spotify, businesses are waking up to the various perks a repeat payment model provides. Longer customer lifetime value (3x longer), a more stable balance sheet, and a clearer way to plan & build growth goals are just some of the benefits. Amazon has launched its own Subscription Service, but it’s unclear what the future holds for it. Currently it offers a small selection of its own products (no marketplace items from 3rd party sellers) and also allows 3rd party sites to accept subscription-based payments via its own Amazon pay service. This leaves an opportunity for businesses to establish their own Subscription services which all but beats Amazon.
13.Treat your employees right. If your employees hate their jobs, their disdain and frustration will ooze into every corner of your business. Treat your employees with respect and make the workplace somewhere they want to be. Happy employees will treat your customers right.
14. Utilize brick & mortar Stores (as Apple did) Amazon is unlikely to ever have showrooms; their product range is too vast and it would only increase overheads for a company that does everything it can to narrow them. If you can work with brick & mortar stores, then you have the opportunity to use these as showrooms for your potential customers to get a “hands-on” experience. Many of us put off the purchase of an item, or return an item we have purchased due to the fact we couldn’t see it, feel it, see how it works – in person.
15. Acquisition Interception. This could be via traditional organic SEO but your strongest chance lays in PPC such as AdWords, as you won’t be competing with Amazon on as many factors. Amazon traditionally doesn’t compete too strongly with this approach, relying on the sheer scale of their Web presence to earn them healthy organic results.
16. Gamification, which is simply adding Incentives to your shopping experience which increases customer loyalty based on game factore such as points, rewards or badges. Amazon does not employ many elements of a Gamification model, so it’s a perfect opportunity to employ features such as Referral, Giveaway & Reward programs. You’ll be increasing your customer’s lifetime spending, while growing your customer base at the same time.
17. Customer Reviews. As the choice of products & suppliers increases online, savvy shoppers are searching for ways to help decide between this growing glut of choices, often referred to as Option Paralysis. Amazon’s reviews feature has become a popular staple of the platform and providing reviews on your Online store will help give useful information & peace of mind to your customers.
18.the Social Responsibility of Philanthropy. Call it what 1you will, it helps you sell. It doesn’t have to be solely pragmatic either; an opportunity exists for you to have your cake & eat it too – by benefiting your business and the world around you simultaneously.When someone buys on Amazon, they line the pockets of Jeff Bezos. But what if you added extra incentives? What if with every order, you gave a few $$$ to charity? In these times of customers caring about what kind of organization you are. You can be different. Many customers perceive companies as faceless bringing their profit-only ways to communities, a philanthropic approach certainly has appeal.
19. Love your Business. Let’s be real: being a small business owner is tough, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. There are so many things to manage, and you simply can’t be an expert in everything. But if you love your business, your passion will shine through in everything you do.
20. Last but certainly not least, Get in Bed with Amazon. An example of a ‘multi-channel’ tactic – the Amazon Marketplace – allows 3rd party suppliers to list & sell their products on Amazon, but to fulfill the order themselves. There are several processes which will automate this process for you, allowing you to sell products on Amazon alongside your Online store while keeping your orders, customers, & inventory in sync.
Conclusion: As we can see, Amazon shouldn’t be seen only as a force to fight against, but rather one that can provide “motivation” for us to improve and practical ways to do so. If we study the facts and look at the glass as half full, we’ll acknowledge that Amazon is likely to affect your business, but with the right plan, it can be a benefit to your business. Amazon is a very disruptive & often destructive force, but your business can survive and even thrive if you focus on delivering a truly unique customer experience.
Comment: Any ideas on how you can beat Amazon?
Compiled by Peter/CXO, Wiz4.biz 5/18
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