It feels like Amazon has taken over the world of retail, expanding from books to what seems like just about everything, but its growth doesn’t mean your profits have to shrink: here’s how retailers and distributors can beat out Amazon.
1) Offer Unique Products
Is your company capable of offering something that other retailers can’t? If so, you may be able carve out a strong competitive niche.
Consider the case of Think Geek, a retailer offering unique products based on a popular entertainment series (Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Minecraft, etc.). You can’t find many of their products elsewhere. Since Think Geek is the only retailer offering many of the things they sell, they’ve got a lock on the market.
They also understand that there’s a limit to how far they can reach, they’ve focused the majority of their efforts on dominating in a specific niche, and it’s paid off quite handsomely.
You’ll need to do the same, because while you can’t compete with Amazon as a generalist, you can compete if you narrow down your market and do everything in your power to become the top retailer of one specific category of products.
2) Focus on Bringing People Back
It’s easier to retain a customer than find a new one, especially if they’ve had a positive experience with you in the past. You’re not going to get very far if every sale you make requires a brand-new customer.
Some techniques for creating repeat customers include:
- Offering a subscription service, giving them valued benefits or continued access to a product (think Netflix)
- Provide valuable information (like how to properly use a product they purchased)
- The creation of a solid rewards program
Remember, customers don’t like mass marketing. Many emails are simply marked as read, and even existing customers might not see your latest deals and offers if you send too many. One well-targeted, relevant email is better than ten mass-marketing messages.
3) Create an Experience
Some shoppers are returning to brick-and-mortar stores because online shopping doesn’t give them a tangible experience, but visiting a physical shop can. Take the case of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (usually abbreviated to REI), a physical retailer selling goods for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities.
As a company, they’ve filled their stores with experts who understand the products and can help customers find what’s right for them. They also offer classes and events that people can participate in, and seriously, have you ever seen Amazon offering classes to people who purchased a product?
Regardless of whether you’re online or offline, you should be trying to create a true experience for your customers. Shopping should be about more than selling a product, it should educate the customer, resolve problems as early as possible, and have them walk away feeling like they had a great time and give them the same passion for the brand that you and your employees have.
4) Tie Your Tools Together
To create the best experience as a retailer, you need to have the right tools in place. This means:
- Tools That Attract The Customer: Whether you’re physical, digital, or a combination of both, you need to be able to attract them to your points of sale.
- Tools That Retain The Customer: You’ll also want to keep them in-store for as long as possible so they can buy your products or services. The longer they’re around, the more chances you have to convince them to make a transaction.
Note: This is difficult for many retailers. If you deliberately slow things down, it’s going to worsen their whole experience with you. Limit your efforts to providing high-quality content that’s genuinely worth seeing, and don’t push too hard on this. User experience is critical.
- Tools That Close The Deal: Don’t just arbitrarily set a price, experiment with different prices and see which is actually the most effective, then offer timely shipping (with tracking) so customers know what’s going on with their purchase.
They Want To Be The Economy, You Want To Be Relevant
On a very literal level, Amazon acts like it wants to be the economy. Their goal is to be a one-stop retailer for every product imaginable, with the power to set prices and control what consumers have access to.