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Every eCommerce business should have ambitious plans, but are you ready to compete with Amazon?
Tech giant Amazon was initially founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, starting its days as an online book store. Within a few months it began shipping to countries around the world, continually growing leaps and bounds to become a $470 billion business spreading into almost every imaginable industry.
Nowadays, Amazon represents a huge opportunity for merchants – whether you sell through them as a seller, to them as a vendor or to other businesses as a marketplace. As a market leader, Amazon represents tough competition. So how can a smaller eCommerce business such as yours learn from Amazon and follow in their footsteps?
First, let's analyse why Amazon is so successful.
Amazon has never been content with staying in its lane. They are constantly building upon themselves and looking at how to improve. This is fortified by the fact that within the space of just a year, Amazon's inventory increased by 41%, expanding from 398 million available items in January 2017 to 562 million in January 2018.
The eCommerce giant sells everything from cookbooks to pet supplies. Even when Amazon isn't the first to innovate in a certain field, they always make sure they are the best. The Amazon Kindle, for instance, was not the first e-reader to hit the market, but it was still undoubtedly the most successful.
Similarly, Amazon's Alexa was the hot topic this Christmas, selling millions of devices over the festive period. This may be because Amazon invested millions of pounds into start up businesses that will develop Alexa’s voice control and give her new skills to ensure that they stay ahead of competitors including Apple and Google.
The main success of Amazon lies in its shipping. Technology has sped up every aspect of our lives, making modern consumers impatient. Amazon have recognised this, and in response they offer free two day shipping to all Prime members. It’s currently estimated that around 1 in 3 households in the UK have a prime membership, and Amazon are constantly expanding the number of items eligible for Prime shipping.
Interesting, some reports have estimated that by offering free shipping, Amazon lose around $7 billion a year. But this is a loss Amazon is willing to take, as Prime membership is a powerful tool. Users are making purchases on Amazon more regularly than non-members, as the two day delivery promise acts as an incentive. Prime delivery also builds loyalty as members become used to Amazon's speedy service and become increasingly less prepared to consider other options.
With Amazon dominating almost every area of the playing field, how can a smaller eCommerce business such as yours be expected to thrive with such fierce competition? We've identified four simple steps that can elevate your market position and help you compete with Amazon in a David and Goliath kind of way...
Sometimes being a small business is an advantage. If there's one thing that Amazon lacks, it is intrinsic humanity. As a big corporation, Amazon cannot create the same excitement and personal story for every product they sell in the same way as a small business can.
This is a weakness you can take advantage of. Many consumers care about community, so try to establish your business within the local area. Start participating in events, attend fairs or even sponsor a local sports team. This will drive traffic to your business and generate a bond which encourages leads to choose you over Amazon.
As we’ve already mentioned, Amazon is excellent at rapidly packing and shipping orders, creating a very short supply chain from the warehouse to the customer's door.
A smaller eCommerce businesses simply cannot be expected to ship for more efficiently and cost-effectively than Amazon. However, you should work to ensure that you are providing a shipping service which meets customer expectations.
Behind every front-end delivery promise there is an underlying logistics operation which makes up around 80% of your business costs. These processes can quickly become a money trap if you don’t automate them as your business expands.
We recently talked to Stuart Pick, Brightpearl’s Vice President of Sales, and discussed the benefits of automating processes within your eCommerce business. By keeping these operations manual, the process is a lot slower and more prone to human error. All these unglamorous, repetitive and simplistic jobs should consequently be automated to avoid wasting human capital.
Another area Amazon doesn’t excel in is content marketing. Small eCommerce businesses need to convince customers to buy from their stores, and this can be done using digital marketing to create a strong customer experience.
Content marketing can be used to create a narrative and deeper meaning to products, which may boost the personal value of your products. As such, customers may be more likely to buy a product from a small retailer because of its individual background compared to a similar product from Amazon.
To ensure a smooth process along the entire operations line and compete with Amazon, it is necessary to centralise all data and process. This means that all the different components of your business are working together in harmony. Without centralisation, certain aspects of your business may be kept in the dark, leading to a disconnect.
This feeling of disconnection, when felt by the customer, results in a negative customer experience due to a lack of confidence in the business. As such, customers are unlikely to buy from you again.
Does your eCommerce business have the ambition to compete with Amazon? Get in touch to hear about the benefits of an outsourced head of eCommerce. Rather than hiring a full-time eCommerce director to help your business achieve global domination, consider a more flexible, scalable way of ensuring your business has the expert support it needs to grow online. Let's talk it over.
We’d love to learn more about what’s brought you to the Six & Flow website. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can potentially help you and your organisation, get in touch.