5 Ways to Help You Grow Past Amazon
Amazon.com is in the news again. The online retail leader is in constant innovation mode, thus creating tons of turmoil and generating headline after headline. There’s no question about it — everyone is talking about Amazon. The question for retailers is, "Why should we care?"
We should care about Amazon because it’s a harbinger of new times in retail. We should also care because, for the first time, craft brands are in a position to overtake big brands because of Amazon’s efforts.
When Wal-Mart evolved from its five-and-dime structure and began rolling out large-format “superstores,” it made headlines for its unerring efficiency, revolutionary logistics and being able to drive new price models that benefitted consumers. Sound familiar? That’s a change agent in motion. Amazon is the Wal-Mart of the ’90s.
The first thing is not to be afraid of the headliner, in this case Amazon, but be cognizant of the change it inspires. Amazon isn’t a retail killer or a sign of worse times to come, but rather a beacon, shedding light on the shift of retail. The industry has resisted change long enough. We (myself included) need to continue to learn, grow and iterate.
Now is the moment to learn from Amazon’s technicolor brilliance and leverage it for your own business. It’s time for retail businesses to be confident in their voice, bring consumer intelligence to the forefront, and push past Amazon to thrive and grow. Here are three things that you can do better than Amazon (and probably already do!):
1. Speak Your Customer
Experiential marketing is top of mind in commerce right now, and rightly so. It’s the first time in a long time that the consumer has found a way to communicate what they want, and they’re actually telling brands and buyers what they want to see on store shelves. You need to listen to and find ways to surprise and delight the customer. Small businesses have this intelligence already, they just need to turn it into insight that leads to profitable decisions and sales.
2. Use it or Lose Them
You never know where your next customer is coming from, so make sure that your multichannel experience is seamless. You’ve invested the time to create high-resolution images, great marketing copy, and anything else that can stir up a feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) in the consumer. Use this content to tell a story. Be relentless about ensuring that this great content is in everything you touch.
This isn’t nearly as sexy as the first two, but without it, you’ll lose. Take the time to build a solid pricing plan. For small businesses, it’s worth the investment to get an expert to look at your pricing and stress test it. You’re going to hear a lot about Amazon pushing the price point lower, but don’t fear. Brands with solid pricing strategies can survive the worst moments of retailer discounting.
These three things set you up to compete with Amazon every day.
Here are two more things to challenge your business to do better than Amazon and your competitors. Find your answers to these two, and you’ll have the ability to drive incremental sales.
4. Turn the Old Into the New
Start looking at the “fixtures” of retail and make them different. Have brick-and-mortar stores? Do you really need a lineup to pay? How do you make the lineup a different experience? Do your customers want different ways to pay?
5. Be Mobile Friendly
Be sure your multichannel plan includes a mobile-friendly website. For small and medium businesses, this is your chance to be nimble and quick. Nearly 60 percent of all product searches come from mobile, but only 60 percent of the top 100 retailers have a mobile app. You can move faster than your competitors. This is one of those opportunities that's best leveraged by those who are quick on their feet.
Amazon does deserve the credit it receives, but there’s no need to be worried that you’re going to lose your business to a single headliner. Retail is growing and learning, and it’s an exciting time to be a brand, retailer or both. Don’t let the biggest name in the industry take more than its fair share of your business. Iterate, change and grow!
Phil Chang is resident retail expert for Hubba, a B-to-B platform that connects brands with retailers.
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