How to stack up against the big dog – Amazon.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos
Unless you’ve been living on the moon for the past decade or so, you know that Amazon is the best-known eCommerce brand on the planet, monopolizing the market in almost every niche imaginable, from clothing and electronics to homeware, fitness, and beyond.
At present, 95 million consumers are signed up to Amazon Prime in the US alone, Moreover, studies have found that nine in ten people check Amazon for a product even if they’ve found it through another website.
It seems that the perfect storm of forward-thinking innovation, price, choice, and convenience has helped Amazon grow into the online shopping giant it is today. While Jeff Bezos’ empire may appear to have a stranglehold, there is space in the market for budding eCommerce businesses like yours.
Yes, you can compete – and while you’re unlikely to outdo Amazon regarding profit or sales, you can stake your claim while enjoying a steady level of annual growth. If you do the right things at the right time, success will be yours for the taking. We’re going to tell you how to achieve this.
Let’s get going.
Choose your niche
First and foremost, Amazon’s inherent weakness is the fact that it offers a wide range of products, services, and items under one convenient hat.
While countless consumers flock to Amazon for this very reason, there are people that prefer to buy from specialists.
Despite the fact that Amazon is a force to be reckoned with, studies show that 88% of consumers prefer to buy products directly from the brand. If you market yourself as a specialist, providing a more condensed but superior range of products while offering a level of information, expertise, and assistance that Amazon simply can’t provide, you stand to grow your audience significantly.
One of the most important aspects of any eCommerce specialist’s website is its product page. If you showcase a greater level of product knowledge and expertise than your competitors – including Amazon, of course – people will take notice.
To help you create communications that will establish you as a niche specialist, here’s our definitive guide to producing product pages that get results.
Offer a truly personalized customer experience
As Amazon is one of the top SVoD content subscription market players and pioneers of the one-click checkout, offering a better level of customer experience than Amazon’s certainly seems like an impossible feat. However, while you may not have the recruitment and development budget of Jeff Bezos, improving your customer experience will allow you to become far more competitive.
Experts predict that by 2020, customer experience will surpass price and product as the key brand differentiator. To offer your target audience the best possible customer experience and stand out in your niche, being consistent, communicative, and personable across every one of your channels or touchpoints (from your product pages to your social media profiles and mobile apps) is essential.
Improving your customer experience offerings is a process, but doing so will make you stand out in your niche. To help guide you through the process, here’s a five-step tutorial for your reading pleasure.
Create or endorse your own products
Amazon offers its own range of “Basics” that cover areas of office equipment, electronics, travel items, and fitness gear. Again, though – this range spreads itself thin over a host of categories rather than drilling down into just one or two niches.
That’s where you come in. Developing a small range of your own branded products as well as a marketing campaign to promote them will allow you to further establish yourself as a niche specialist. It will also help you turn the heads of all-important industry influencers.
If you have the time, budget, and innovative idea worth pursuing, then designing and developing your own products from scratch is an excellent way to offer a level of value that Amazon simply can’t compete with. However, if you’re time and money strapped, launching simple branded products in collaboration with suppliers or through a third-party is a far more straightforward way to offer your customers something unique.
For instance, if you’re a business that specializes in ceramics and mugs, you could strike a deal with a reliable independent supplier and use a printing service to create personalized mugs sporting a unique design as well as your brand logo. The sky’s the limit, and by offering branded products, you are likely to attract fresh customers.
Simplify your shipping process
Some of the biggest pain points facing today’s consumers are poor fulfillment and shipping processes. As you may have guessed, Amazon’s shipping and fulfillment processes are second to none. If you want to compete, you need to make your inventory management, fulfillment, and shipping efforts seamless. The best way to do this is by simplifying the shipping process.
Brands that offer “free shipping” reduce abandoned carts by 36%. By providing swift, faultless shipping free of charge, you’ll benefit from an increase in customers. Although this can be easier said than done, there are ways you can make it happen:
- Reduce the number of steps it takes to fulfill an order by auditing your processes and using digital solutions rather than paper-based systems.
- Work with precalculated weights to simplify the packing process.
- Build shipping costs into your products and orders so that you can offer free delivery.
- Send your products to customers with personalized packing or messaging. This has been proven to foster brand loyalty.
Inventory management is a pivotal part of the eCommerce shipping process. To sharpen up your methods and save money, check out our inventory management guide.
Offer true transparency
These days, consumers like their brands to be more personable, more human, and more transparent. While we’re not saying that Amazon is inhuman or non-transparent, when you become such an enormous brand, it’s harder to connect with your audience on a personal level.
By empowering your customers with information, delivering on your brand promises, or offering people a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your business, you will showcase your transparency. This will help you foster trust, loyalty, and brand advocacy – the key ingredients to continual eCommerce success.
Take Patagonia, for instance – an outdoor apparel brand that thrives on its mission for sustainability. The company launched a “Fair Trade Campaign,” asking people to question how their clothing is made.
By offering hard-hitting facts on the detrimental impact of the unethical practices tied to the clothing industry and making consumers question their fashion choices, the brand cemented itself as a thought leader that sticks to its beliefs. This video trailer alone has garnered over 165,000 YouTube views to date. Such initiatives help Patagonia to grow each and every year.
A testament to the power of transparency in eCommerce.
Use the right tools
In the digital age, there is a wealth of sophisticated technologies available to not only save time and money but also make your business smarter, savvier, and more successful. While Amazon undoubtedly has a colossal team as well as a raft of cutting-edge platforms to help run its empire, the point is: if you want to remain competitive, you need the right tools for the job.
Today’s eCommerce business owners not only have to consider inventory, fulfillment, business strategy, product development, and marketing across a growing number of consumer channels, but they also need to keep their staff happy while keeping up with ongoing marketing activities. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.
Forty-four percent of consumers will tell friends about a poor web experience. To prevent this from happening and causing ongoing detriment to your business, you should invest in a platform that will provide you with invaluable customer data while helping to streamline and automate key elements of your business. This, in turn, will help boost your productivity, enhance your business intelligence, and allow you to remain competitive in an increasingly cutthroat environment.
At Agiliron, we offer a host of products and solutions that will help you compete with the likes of Amazon while giving you the tools to make smarter, more informed, and invaluable decisions. If you’d like to know more about us and our products, please get in touch, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions.