Amazon is big, scary, powerful and coming to Australia in 2018, so you could choose to believe that your customers will inevitably jump ship, or you could think tactically, grab your proverbial slingshot and show Goliath whose boss. See, Amazon is like that friend at school who was good at everything, except when you came to realise that no-one is good at everything, you just had to seek out their weak spots and use them to your advantage.
According to Paul Green, Founder of the National Online Retailers Association, at this year’s Telstra Innovation Summit “There’s plenty of space between what Amazon does and doesn’t do to provide opportunity for retailers to compete”. Whatever the size of your business, the trick is to work smarter, not harder.
Or to put it much more bluntly, if you want to compete with Amazon or any other big retailer or marketplace for that matter, you need to differentiate or die. This may seem obvious (and maybe a tad dramatic) as product differentiation is intrinsic to all great retail, but Udayan Bose, Founder & CEO, NetElixir, discusses differentiating your offerings and experience, stating “customers will buy from you based on who you are, and not what you sell”.
So, with that in mind, it’s time to get down to business. Here is how David can beat Goliath in 21st century retail:
Narrow your niche.
Amazon sells pretty much everything, fact. Hopefully, your business sells a few things, that you’re good at and that’s your niche.
Once you’ve got your niche, dominate it online. How? Through kick-ass content marketing. See, since Amazon sells everything they struggle to rank for keywords. So there is a major gap you can fill. Need a content marketing crash course? We think this one is great.
Know your niche.
The good thing about having a niche is that you can then become the industry expert or the guru if you will, of said niche. Use your digital presence to give your customers consumable content; blogs, FAQs, how-to videos, relevant and engaging social media.
Be the place your customers turn to for expertise; a destination where they can buy a product, learn how to use it and be part of a community to talk about it. Now, Amazon, Walmart or any of the other giants definitely can’t do that.
Give the people what they want.
And what the people want is fantastic online browsing and user experience. A winning e-commerce site should be functional, fast, 40% of site visitors say they’d abandon a webpage that takes more than three seconds to load and fetching (or aesthetically pleasing, but we needed another ‘f’word).
Making customers come back is all about top visuals, fast loading times, the ease at check out, optimising for mobile (Paypal found that 71% of Australian consumers are now shopping on their smartphones), great navigation and great content. And for the love of god have a strong search function within your website! Check out The Academy Brand whose search functionality predicts possible products as you type in the first few letters of the word – now that’s what we’re talking about!
See what we did there? Credit where it’s due, Amazon is good at shipping, but that’s not to say it can’t be done better…you can provide an awesome shipping service without the customer even knowing they need it, just by exceeding expectations. How about delighting your customers with Shippit’s branded tracking page feature (follow this link (link to schedule a time to talk with sales) to find out how), or deliver before the customer is expecting it, by shipping-from-store on the same day.
Competing with the big players is going to mean pulling out all the stops and so same-day delivery isn’t an option, it’s a necessity (link to Same-day blog). The little things make a big difference, go the extra mile and your customer will be pleased as punch.
Be local (yes, this does apply to online too).
By local we don’t mean in the corner shop sense, we’re talking ‘local’ as in a service that shows your customer that you’re a human being. Provide personal care, answer emails quickly and maybe even (shock, horror) pick up the phone to answer their query and proclaim how much you value them. Flattery will get you everywhere and convert visitors, to customers, to fans and followers.
Thinking that your sales and marketing team sells your product is so 2016, this is the new era of retail; an era where a happy customer becomes a brand advocate and the brand advocate has a far bigger buying influence on their peers than any sponsored Instagram post.
So with Amazon heading to (in their own words) “destroy the retail environment in Australia” in but a few months from now, don’t try to directly compete, it’s time to work out your strengths and differentiators and OWN them by singing to your own tune, as Oscar Wilde put it ‘be yourself, everyone else is taken’.
Shippit.com is the shipping engine for modern retail. Learn more on how our software can save you time, money and keep your customers happy.