Let’s be honest: Amazon is a brilliant company that has permanently disrupted the retail world. Even longtime conglomerates like Barnes & Noble, Sears, JCPenny, and countless others have become proverbial Davids to Amazon’s Goliath. And, many businesses haven’t survived.
If so many small and big companies alike are being challenged like never before by Amazon, how can any business expect to survive and even thrive with such fierce competition? Is it as simple as learning how to sell on Amazon? Does the company have a secret weakness to exploit?
There are no easy solutions, but there are steps you can take to ensure your company’s long-term success. Here are 10 tips to help your small brick-and-mortar or e-commerce business compete with Amazon:
- Be unique. Yes, this sounds like an obvious piece of advice, but it couldn’t be more important in today’s business environment. Amazon sells just about everything, but it doesn’t sell everything. To compete, you’ve got to narrow your niche and offer something that can’t be found anywhere else.
- Perfect your website. If your website is difficult to navigate or simply has an outdated look, users will get frustrated and leave. Research shows that more and more people are shopping online. In fact, in 2016 digital revenue increased by 15.1%, reaching 8.1% of all retail sales. It might require a little time and attention to improve your website, but you can’t afford not to.
- Make buying online easy. Even after finding the perfect item, online shoppers will quit the buying process if something gets in their way. For example, if you require would-be shoppers to login prior to making a purchase, chances are they’ll quit. Make the online shopping experience seamless from start to finish.
- Offer a shipping solution. No one expects you to beat Amazon Prime’s fast and free shipping plan, but you should offer a shipping solution that works for your customers’ needs. Consider developing a shipping strategy that rewards first-time customers and frequent customers. If you make it easy and inexpensive for your patrons, they’ll likely keep coming back for more.
- Grow your online brand. Is your company active on social media? Do you have reviews on sites like Google and Facebook? If you aren’t paying attention to your online business identify, your company is in trouble. Research shows that 90% of today’s consumers use online reviews when researching a product. Whether it’s shopping for a new couch, tax accountant, or a bite to eat, people look to online voices before they make a decision. You can use that to your advantage.
- Focus on customer service. It’s been said over and over again: customer service is the secret to keeping people happy. This sentiment is especially true in today’s Digital Age. Whether your customers are shopping online or inside your establishment, customer service is exactly where your small business can outshine the big guys. Provide your customers with personalized attention, service, and value they can’t get anywhere else, and they’ll be happy to support your business.
- Create a loyalty program. While you’re focusing on customer service, don’t forget to create a loyalty plan. Everyone likes free, so treat your repeat visitors to something extra when they come back again and again. The more a customer comes back, the more value you’ll get from them and the more likely they’ll continue to patronize your business.
- Be local. Today’s consumers care about their communities, and more and more are embracing the “shop local” trend. If you’re not active in your community, get out there. Start participating in events, like sponsoring the local high school team or joining a cancer walk. Open your doors to your neighbors and they’ll come in.
- Treat your employees right. If your employees hate their jobs, their disdain and frustration will ooze into every corner of your business. Treat your employees with respect and make the workplace somewhere they want to be. Happy employees will treat your customers right.
- Love your business. Let’s be real: being a small business owner is tough, and it hasn’t gotten any easier. There are so many thing to manage, and you simply can’t be an expert in everything. But if you love your business, your passion will shine through in everything you do.
Amazon is a juggernaut, but your business can survive and even thrive if you focus on delivering a truly unique customer experience. Take a few simple steps and see what happens. We’re rooting for you, and we’re here to help!