David vs. Amazon: How Your Competitive Equation Changes Without In-Store Shopping
Much of e-commerce has become a David vs. Goliath proposition.
On one side, you have retailers launching, expanding and improving their e-commerce operations.
On the other side, there’s the looming presence of Amazon.com, which has used a vast product portfolio and fast shipping to become the go-to e-commerce destination.
It's a daunting task to go head-to-head with Amazon, which has become the default option for many customers. eMarketer expects Amazon will account for 39.7 percent of e-commerce sales in the U.S. this year.
But it doesn’t mean that retailers can’t be competitive.
Retailers can outflank Amazon by focusing on the fundamentals, like excellent customer service, a seamless and user-friendly e-commerce shopping experience, competitive pricing, and an in-depth understanding of their customers’ tastes and preferences.
These are strategic approaches that can effectively position a retailer as an attractive destination. Combined with a strong brand and marketing programs that engage, encourage and educate, retailers can thrive amid challenging economic conditions.
One of the biggest challenges is how retailers can connect with customers when they're not able or unwilling to visit brick-and-mortar locations.
Many retailers, particularly those selling luxury brands, heavily depend on the in-store experience to attract, serve and retain customers.
The post-COVID landscape has forced many retailers to reload on their marketing and promotional activities. What may have worked a year ago is no longer as useful or even relevant. The rules of engagement have changed, and retailers need to quickly determine how they will meet existing customers’ needs as well as attract new customers.
Some of the new retail tools include enabling customers to make purchases online and then offering curbside pickup. Some brands have doubled-down on delivery services.
There's a marketing activity that many retailers have been leveraging for years and has strong potential as a customer engagement tool: email. One of the marketing workhorses, email allows retailers to connect regularly and reliably with customers.
Email is a powerful way to engage customers who aren’t visiting brick-and-mortar locations. Email enhances existing relationships and establishes new ones, and collects data about customers’ tastes and preferences.
This is particularly the case during peak shopping seasons when consumers encounter a massive amount of marketing activity, making it challenging to capture their attention and dollars.
According to Salesforce, 68 percent of consumers say they pay more attention to corporate emails during the holidays.
One of the keys to email marketing is not simply sending regular emails. It's about email campaigns aligned with the specific interests and buying habits of your customers.
Using personalization, segmentation and a “content diet,” retailers can leverage email campaigns that drive opens, clicks and conversions. By “content diet,” we’re talking about using different creative assets to drive better and more engagement.
Email helps existing and potential customers quickly discover and purchase new products, particularly ones that Amazon can’t offer.
Furthermore, email generates invaluable data that savvy retailers can leverage to understand better what their customers want and, as important, how they can anticipate products that they may wish to purchase.
With personalization and segmentation, retailers can target their email customers within specific customer groups and deliver products and promotions personalized to them by leveraging data.
While competing against Amazon is a major challenge, retailers can capitalize on the power of email marketing to educate and motivate customers, nurture relationships, and drive sales.
Email provides direct and continual opportunities to get your brand and its products in front of customers, which is critical at a time when attracting in-store traffic is difficult.
James Glover is the co-founder and CEO of Coherent Path, an email marketing optimization and email personalization solutions provider.