Sometimes, mentioning the word Amazon in a room full of small business owners can make them shudder with fear. It seems like consumers are turning exclusively to the industry giant to buy whatever goods they need. As a small business owner, what can you do to separate yourself and not lose customers to Amazon?
Why is Amazon so successful?
To compete with Amazon, you first have to recognize what makes them so successful. The site's main selling point is convenience. They carry a wide variety of products ranging from clothes to electronics and home decor. It can be a one-stop shop for all your needs.
Another convenience they offer is speedy delivery. With Amazon Prime, consumers can receive packages within two days, or in some cases, within the next or same day. Plus, people don't have to leave the comfort of their homes and go out to buy the products they need. Amazon is easily accessible from any computer or mobile device.
What small businesses have over Amazon
Believe it or not, small businesses do have some significant advantages over Amazon. Hyper targeting your audience is much easier for you because you have a specific group of people to cater to with your products or services. On the other hand, Amazon has the task of managing thousands of businesses at once, and can only use automated targeting based on your previous search history. This type of targeting is effective and helpful but lacks the personal touch of a small business.
Small businesses also can build credibility and relationships with their customers by personalizing their customer journey. You can cultivate one on one relationships with customers in person if you have a physical location or send customers follow-up emails and thank you’s for supporting your business if you're an online business. These small gestures go a long way with customers and make you more memorable. Consumers love feeling a personal connection to a business or brand, and this is something Amazon can't compete with small businesses on.
How to leverage your advantages
Now that you understand some of the advantages you have over Amazon, how do you utilize them to compete with the e-commerce giant?
Build a loyal audience
A smaller customer base means that you can develop relationships with customers. Cultivate your relationships with these customers because it's more effective to keep loyal customers than try to find new ones. The more you focus on customer retention, the more likely your business will flourish.
Provide value beyond the product
Be more than just a business and deliver a feeling to customers. Give customers a reason to come back, using incentives like coupons and promotions. Make sure you also embrace the online world. Connect with your customers via social media, using platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and show off your business.
Find and embrace your niche
When you discover your niche, you can easily tailor a shopping experience for these customers. You can make them feel special and cater to their needs on a personal basis. Defining your niche will be one of your greatest strengths. Consumers will be attracted to the unique offerings your business has.
Tell your business story
With its wide inventory of products, it can be hard for Amazon to interest consumers with its unique business story. This is something small businesses can easily achieve. Create a connection with potential customers by sharing a piece of your business story and feature it prominently on your website. Give readers an insight into your beginnings or share some inspiration behind starting your business. Like we mentioned before, customers today value personal connection and transparency.
Highlight product quality
It's very rare that the items you get on Amazon are not outsourced and made in another country. So while Amazon has competitive pricing and a big inventory, items with higher quality than what your business offers are not guaranteed.
According to Forbes, “the eCommerce Foundation found that nearly 90% of consumers do preliminary research online before making a purchase online or in-store.” This gives you a window of opportunity to highlight the craftsmanship of your products. Emphasize the dedication you have to give your customers the best experience and maybe provide a guarantee if it's within your budget.
Feature customer reviews
Many Amazon users look at the reviews displayed on products before completing a purchase. Take this account and also be willing to post customer reviews to your website under each product that you sell. Employing this practice could give your business more transparent and can help boost your sales. Reviews create instant credibility for your business. Take advantage and promote your users to leave a review.
Make your website user-friendly
Amazon’s website is user-friendly, making it easy for customers to make multiple purchases. Why not look to Amazon for inspiration for improving your website experience? The simplicity or difficulty of shopping and purchasing through your website can make or break your business. For example, if you want to alleviate the worries of your customers, include an FAQ page on your website as a guide for customers to follow and answer their questions quickly. This will provide another convenient method of customer service.
Also, ensure that you have credible methods for customer payments as this will enhance the customer experience. If shoppers feel they can not trust the payment method hosted on your website, they may turn to Amazon for their reputation of being secure and trusted.
If you can’t beat them, join them
If you're finding it difficult to compete with Amazon, there is always the option to sell through Amazon. You can still maintain your small business authenticity if done right. USA Today states that “Over two-thirds (68%) of small business owners who sell a product online say that Amazon has positively impacted their sales, according to a poll of more than 2,400 business owners conducted by Insureon and online small business directory Manta.” Don't be afraid to cash in on Amazon's success. Amazon has a program that looks to bolster small businesses where you only need to pay either $0.99 per sale or $39.99 per month.
There's a reason small businesses have stuck around for decades though, and it's because they deliver a unique customer experience that can't be replicated by a site like Amazon. Highlight the components of your business that the industry giant can't replicate and if anything, use their platform to your business's advantage.