Do you have an ecommerce or brick-and-mortar store? As a business owner, the idea of competing in the age of Amazon may seem overwhelming or even futile. But while major news outlets talk about the successes of major brands, they miss out on the consumers who prefer a more personalized experience that you can only get from small businesses. With that in mind, these are some ideas for how your business can stand out in the age of Amazon.
Don’t try to be Amazon.
People who come to your online store aren’t looking for another Amazon-like experience. If they wanted that, they wouldn’t be on your website in the first place. They are looking for something less overwhelming. Something that is not a big box store experience.
How can you provide this as an ecommerce store owner? Try creating a differentiated experience that caters to a specific customer segment. Instead of offering everything to everyone, create landing pages that address your target audience. For example, if you’re a clothing retailer, you may focus on what a professional woman in her 30s needs in her wardrobe for a day at the office, an evening out on the town, and a weekend getaway with her family.
Focus on the things that Amazon can’t offer.
What does your online or brick-and-mortar store offer that Amazon doesn’t? It may seem like Amazon has anything and everything, but they don’t. For example, 14% of consumers are very concerned about counterfeit products on Amazon, and some major brands won’t be a part of their marketplace because of it.
Let your customers know that everything you sell in your store is 100% authentic. If your products are original, you should have an “About” page on your website or a brochure in your store that tells the story about how each product is made, including the quality of the materials, the sourcing of materials, the craftsmanship – you get the idea. This will go a long way toward building your customer’s trust in your products.
Another way to focus on what Amazon can’t offer is to offer services related to your products. Brick-and-mortar store owners can offer personal stylists and fittings if you sell clothing, makeovers if you sell cosmetics, and try before you buy stations if you sell electronics.
Present your best price.
When it comes to pricing, the goal isn’t to slash your pricing to compete with Amazon Basics products. 68% of consumers are willing to pay up to 15% more for a better shopping experience. If your online or brick and mortar store is providing a more straightforward online shopping experience, better quality product, or same-day availability with no shipping costs, you don’t necessarily have to have the lowest price to win the sale.
With that said, if you have an online-only store and your products can be found on Amazon and other e-tailers’ sites, find the lowest price you can offer without hurting your bottom line. Try to ensure that price checkers from Amazon and other sites aren’t going to automatically check your store off their list as being the most expensive option for the same item.
Product pricing isn’t the only pricing that counts. Track fees that could be impacting your profit. Look for ways to offer the best shipping and handling pricing by inquiring about discounted business and volume shipping rates with your preferred shipping vendor. Purchase packaging materials and branded packaging tape in bulk to get the best pricing and make your brand stand out just like Amazon when a box arrives at your customer’s door.
Collect quality reviews from verified buyers for your products.
Less than half of Amazon shoppers fully trust reviews on Amazon, most of whom only trust verified buyer reviews. Since 75% of Amazon shoppers sometimes or frequently price check with other websites, your best bet is to not only have a competitive price but a substantial selection of verified buyer reviews for your products.
Even if your product has mixed reviews, having a more significant percentage of verified buyer reviews on your products can increase the likelihood of your store making the sale. To encourage more reviews from verified buyers, Spiegel Research Center suggests using followup emails after purchase to remind buyers to leave their verified buyer review.
Connect with your customers on a personal level.
Having a huge customer base can make it challenging to connect with customers on a personal level. Focus on building a connected community on the top social media networks – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter in particular. Each network allows you to connect with customers in a variety of ways.
- With Facebook, you can use a Facebook Page, Facebook Group, and Messenger to connect with customers, send updates about your latest products and promotions, provide customer service, promote your local business, and collect reviews for your local store.
- With Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, you can use your profile to connect with customers, send updates about your latest products and promotions, provide customer service, and promote your local business.
On your website and in your brick and mortar store, collect the email addresses of interested customers to provide the latest information about your products and promotions direct to their inbox. Also, use your email list to promote your latest content.
Offer the best customer service possible.
While Amazon has an auto-generated response for most situations, some customers are growing weary of the arrival of damaged, late, or wrong items. Separate your business from Amazon in a big way by checking each order twice for accuracy and packaging each order for safe delivery.
If a problem should occur, aim to provide fast, personalized customer service. They will remember you taking the time to treat them like a person instead of just an order number, which could easily lead to a positive review, referrals to their friends, and long-term loyalty (which translates to recurring sales).
Make your online shopping experience seamless.
If there’s one area you want to invest in to expand your business with business financing and compete with Amazon, it’s your online shopping experience. For those who leave Amazon because they are overwhelmed by the immersive shopping experience, you will want to give them a clean, straightforward one instead.
Give your online store’s ecommerce experience a full review to determine how much of a website makeover your current technology needs. For some stores, it may be as simple as a design upgrade, and for others, it may require moving to a new platform with a custom design.
For example, if you have an online and brick-and-mortar store, you may want to invest in a full redesign with the Shopify platform with an integrated POS and app to let online shoppers know if they can pick up items in store. This will allow your shoppers the best online shopping experience with the chance to get products that are available immediately in their area, an option that will give you a competitive edge on Amazon.
As you can see, having a successful business online and offline isn’t impossible in the age of Amazon. You don’t have to become Amazon to grow your business – you just have to find the ways that your business can differentiate itself.
Guest post by Samantha Novick of Funding Circle.