Amazon has certainly lived up to its name, becoming a retail giant known for fast shipping, wide selection and low pricing. So why aren’t small ecommerce companies throwing up their hands and throwing in the towel?
Small companies are surviving, and often thriving, because they are capitalizing on their strengths, which might not necessarily be shared by Amazon. They’ve found that there are customers who prefer impeccable, personalized service above speed and unique products that might not be found among Amazon’s wares.
Here are 4 strategies that help small companies compete with Amazon.
Do whatever you can to eliminate hoops and hassles from your ordering and return systems. Unless you have a large staff and a lot of time, it typically pays to work with a third-party fulfillment partner that has invested in a topnotch computerized inventory management system. While you might not need to compete with Amazon on speed of delivery, you will need to compete on shipping costs. Do your best to offer free shipping– if not for every package, at least at certain levels of purchase.
Every time an Amazon product lands on doorstep, Amazon gets a boost. Why? Because of the Amazon logo on the box. Why not make your box an ad for your company as well? Your fulfillment partner can help find ways to make your packaging stand out; your partner can also come up with ways to pack nice extras and surprises inside your box. One of our clients sells children’s clothing. We’ve worked closely with them to dress up the packaging that protects adorable dresses and baby bonnets. Or, if your company has an interesting story, tell it in a short note packed with each order. I have not forgotten the story of a veteran-owned business that I bought a mattress cover from a few years ago. I’d order from the company again because of its story–and its products.
Let’s say you are an e-retailer who sells small-batch roasted coffees from South America. Coffee is a daily requirement for most of us, so your customers are going to need more than a bag. Why not offer a “club” membership so that several pounds of coffee beans are shipped to them every month. A discounted rate and bonuses along the way will motivate them to join the club. Countless businesses have had tremendous success with this formula–from the venerable Harry & David Fruit of the Month Club to Dollar Shave Club.
Along the same lines, let’s say you sell organic creams and lotions using formulas you inherited from your French grandmother. Of course, you could sell bottle of body cream, but wouldn’t it be more exciting to your customer to get a box of 4 to 5 of your different products, customized to their needs? Even better, work with your fulfillment partner to create a specialized box that displays the collection of products in an appealing way.
We’d love to share more ways that we can help you compete with Amazon.
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