As an internet marketer, I can generally say that Amazon’s dominance over eCommerce is very impressive. However, for small business eComm stores, it’s more frightening than anything.
Competing with eCommerce giants like Amazon requires an educated look at your business model and some fancy footwork. In essence, you will never be in direct competition with them, as it’s just not possible. However, you can ensure your business’ growth and survival in the age of Amazon with some helpful tips for your eComm business.
The Challenge: You Can’t Compete with Amazon
Large retailers have great advantages over small eCommerce or brick-and-click businesses. They have hoards of cash, highly competitive sellers, entire teams devoted to marketing, and the ability to offer a wide range of products/services at low cost.
Here at Logic Web Media, we have created hundreds of eCommerce stores over the years. In 2017, we created a total of 13 eCommerce websites, managing a combined total of 7,248 products.
Now, I don’t say this to brag, but simply to show that we have experience on the issue. Over the years, we have seen eCommerce businesses thrive and, unfortunately, fail. Their failure is not due to a lack of a decent website. It is well understood that having a rockstar website means nothing without employing other tactics that influence your success on the internet.
eCommerce stores fall by the wayside in the age of Amazon for a few reasons:
- Lack of adaptability to the changing internet landscape
- Lack of understanding of internet marketing psychology
- Unwillingness to change the business M.O., even when it is clearly backsliding
- Investing in outdated forms of marketing or nearly obsolete sales channels
- Lack of tracking or analytics, so they are unaware on what is/isn’t successful
The Solution: 6 Tips to Stay Competitive
As I stated before, we have experience on what does and does not work when it comes to selling on the internet. Amazon may be mighty, but that doesn’t mean that your small eCommerce business cannot thrive. While you do not have the resources to go toe-to-toe with Amazon, here are a few alternative actions that will help you.
Recommendations for Your Business Functions
1. Find Your Niche & Work With It
The advantage that Amazon has with the products they sell can be your clue into what their disadvantage is. Let me explain: their products tend to be a dime a dozen, and there’s tons of sellers selling products (ie- socks, toaster, sheets, etc.). Knowing this, it’s logical to assume that there is a vacuum for products that attract the underserved or not-yet-existing niches.
Chances are that if your eCommerce store was born from a brick-and-mortar store, then there is at least a handful of products that you make yourself or resell to a customer base that cannot be satisfied on Amazon. This is your internet goldmine.
For instance, our client Remember Me Green is a local manufacturer of tote bags. Now, anyone can go onto Amazon and find a million tote bags in every color, shape, size, and price. However, this client has found a niche and targets them directly. Hoards of people will buy cheap bags on Amazon with free delivery on Prime. The customers that want a product that is unique, hand-made in New York, has a good origin story, AND supports the ever-evolving green movement will buy from Remember Me Green. Customers will spend the money to get the product they want.
2. Perfect Your Order Fulfillment (Like Amazon)
One huge benefit to ordering on Amazon is that you know (with almost a perfect degree of certainty) that you will receive what you pay for. Additionally, if there is an issue with the product, you will be able to get your money back without much of a headache.
As with all competitive strategies, if you want to beat them, be like them!
Whether you are selling in-store or online, you need to put a great amount of attention and effort into your customer service and ordering processes. This includes:
- Fast order fulfillment
- Accurate order fulfillment
- Cheap (or free) shipping
- Send order/shipping status updates
- Accept returns/exchanges
Recommendations for Your Website Strategies
3. Track ALL of Your Data & Trust It
Possibly the largest advantage that Amazon has on everyone is that they are sitting on a MASSIVE amount of user data. Use data has been a hot topic recently. This is due to the fact that it is the most valuable tool that internet marketers can use to get you to buy things.
I’m sure you’ve been followed around the internet by Amazon product ads that you either have searched, looked at a competitors site for, or maybe even just thought about in passing (kidding). They have that ability because they track data and use it for advertising strategies. At Logic Web Media, we can help you get tracking of all kinds set up so that we can follow your customers around on the internet in a similar fashion.
Another benefit to tracking user data and flow is knowing what works and what doesn’t work on your website. Tracking can tell you where the user came from, what device they are on, what pages they visited, what actions they took on the page, how long they were on your website, etc. This data tells us what areas of your eCommerce website needs to be adjusted or optimized. If an important page is not converting, it should be reformatted immediately.
4. Show the Reasons People Should Shop with You
There’s many good reasons why people shop on Amazon. There’s likely to be reasons why people should shop with you, too. Highlighting these reasons throughout your eCommerce store is a great way to sway your customers.
Customer Reviews: Make sure you have reviews of your products clearly visible. Additionally, make sure you are collecting new reviews regularly. Sending followup emails after purchases (the way Amazon does) can help generate reviews. Having honest and genuine reviews of your products from customers is the best way to appeal to new customers.
Return/Shipping Policies: Having clear shipping and returns policies listed on your product pages is very important in establishing trust. Having them hidden in their own pages will do very little. Customers want some guarantee that they are going to get what they pay for as quick and cheaply as possible, and with assurance that if there is a problem you will address it. I know that some of the information will seem redundant or somewhat basic to pepper through your site, but it helps with reassuring your potential customer that quality service is important to you.
Secure Transactions: You and your web developer know that your transactions are secure. We have set up many payment gateways, and the SSL certificate on eCommerce websites protects users from having their credit card information stolen. Displaying reassuring value statements about customer credit card security and not selling data to a third party is important for sales conversion.
Recommendations for Your Marketing Investments
5. Social Media Marketing Will Save You (I Promise)
I know this is an intense statement to make, but I fully trust it and have seen the evidence. Social media is omnipresent in our society today. Whats more is that it’s absolutely free to use. So, why not use that exposure to your advantage?
Having a successful social media marketing strategy at your disposal can boost your sales exponentially. We recently built an eCommerce store for TechWearUSA. They sold primarily over the phone and in-person at events. Being that their product is unique and high-quality, it was important for them to boost their bottom line by selling online, all over the world.
As stated earlier in this post, building a website does not guarantee sales. They hired us to figure out the best way to market to their customers and increase internet sales. Our plan: Social media marketing; and it is hugely successful. Not only have sales increased, but the company is spending less on marketing than they would have doing things like print ads, ad retargeting, or Google AdWords. This means a higher ROI (return on investment).
Below is their results on both Facebook and Instagram. The charts show the increase in followers and engagement since we started. Due to the hugely successful social media campaigns, they have gotten more sales through their eCommerce store than they have ever gotten from any other marketing source.
6. Offer Discounts & Hold Contests
Having discounts and contests can help grab a quick sale on the internet. Obviously, having great social media presence will make this more effective. However, it will still play a vital role in increasing conversions, even if you don’t have the audience to directly advertise to.
Discounts should be handled intelligently. If you are trying to get the attention of potential customers, offering heavy discounts on high prices is the way to do it. Once the product matures and sells, you can reduce the price and the discount offered. It is important to not hold to a set price on products, but to allow for fluctuation based on how you want to stimulate sales. As a seller of online goods, you need to be able to bend with internet trends and customer needs.
I’m sure you have heard the phrase “you need to spend money to make money.” Giving something away on the internet is a small price to pay to gain a customer and generate interest on your products. In the world of eCommerce, getting people to your website is always the first step. So, giving away a low-ticket item gives you the chance for customers getting to your site and seeing the more profitable goods you have to offer. This is more effective when you have a social media marketing campaign, which (again) offers a huge benefit.
The Recap: Compete Intelligently, And You Will Survive
The unmatched dominance of Amazon can be daunting to eCommerce stores. It is important for your business to plan and strategize the best way to survive in the current internet landscape, because Amazon is here to stay.
We highly suggest to clients:
- Play up your strengths
- Serve your customers well
- Provide a unique and trustworthy experience
- Know your customer, and track them on your website
- Utilize social media for brand awareness and sales generation