Struggling to compete with Amazon? As a small e-commerce retailer, or an even more local brick-and-mortar store, chances are Amazon is the ghost that haunts your every move. By 2021, they are expected to hold over 50% of the world’s retail ecommerce market. That’s a scary number that doesn’t seem to be dwindling anytime soon.
But don’t throw in the towel, just yet! There are many ways small businesses can compete with this marketplace giant. Providing a personalized experience, adopting new technology, and being active in your local community can all keep your sales soaring while stealing a few customers away from Amazon, too! You may not be selling over 12 million products, but with the right tips and tricks you can make your own footprint on Amazon’s turf.
Build Your Brand
What does your brand say about you? Are you telling a story? The image you project into the world should match the experience your customers get when they enter your store or shop on your website. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can be personalized to develop a unique brand experience that keeps your customers coming back for more. If your brick-and-mortar clothing shop is strung with fairy lights, make your website and your Instagram feed sparkle. Connect the dots to deliver a unique, and highly personalized, experience for your consumers.
If you have a physical storefront, make sure you hire friendly and knowledgeable staff. People shop local for an experience you can’t match online. Smiles, and remembering names, can go a long way toward customer loyalty. When the phone rings, have a real person answer it. Chatbots and automatic emails are efficient, but cold. If you have repeat customers, offer a loyalty program with special offers and discounts. You may not be able to compete with Amazon’s prices, but you can offer free local delivery and free returns. Consider adopting an “order online, pick up in store” option, too. Don’t forget free gift-wrapping for the holidays! The more freebies you can give your customers, the more likely they are to come back to you.
Tout Your Technology
Amazon may be huge, but they don’t have a monopoly on the Internet just yet. Take advantage of the wide range of technological tools developed for small businesses, just like you. Start by creating a kick-ass website that mirrors your in-store customer experience. Make sure it’s easy to navigate, and that the checkout process is super smooth. Accepting multiple forms of payment, including Apple Pay, PayPal, and all major credit cards, makes shopping a breeze for your returning customers.
Don’t forget to stay up to date and active on your social media accounts, too. Discounts, sales, and special offers can be posted to any and all of your personalized pages. You can even run giveaway contests for the most “likes” on a post, or the most unique user-generated image. Engaging your community keeps you relevant to your consumers. When customers message you or comment on one of your posts, be sure to respond in a timely manner. Online conversations turn into real-life customers in the blink of an eye.
If all that isn’t enough, try staying in contact via email marketing and text messaging! Your customers are used to email campaigns, but text message offers are just getting started. Try texting your loyal customers a special discount code just for them! If you want to get even more tech savvy, develop a unique, personalized app that lets your customers shop even more seamlessly than on Amazon!
Small businesses need to stay active in their communities in order to stay relevant in their customers’ minds. This means volunteering at local charities or events, participating in celebrations, and contributing monetarily to local non-profits. Sponsor local, high school sports team, donate to the local animal shelter, and take part in the spring craft fair. Host special events at your location, and invite the community to participate. Get your name, and brand, out in the community any way that you can. Excess inventory? Try a bold move like donating old inventory to the local charity shop. Tip off your community newspaper, and get yourself a little free publicity, too! Showing the community that you care about local events is a great way of building trust with your consumers.
If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Join ‘em
Last but not least, consider using Amazon to your advantage. You can set up an Amazon storefront and reach a larger audience by dancing with the devil. Amazon will take a percentage of your sales, but your brand will reach far and wide. Try starting slow with excess inventory that you were planning to sell at a discount, anyway. You’ll have to sell more items to make the same amount of profit you make in-store, but chances are you’ll be dealing with a higher volume as you reach a larger audience. If you’re trying to scale beyond your local community, it may be worth the risk.
Amazon may be taking over ecommerce retail worldwide, but they don’t have the personalized touch of a brick-and-mortar store. Use your unique brand image and voice to compete with the generic giant, and give yourself the competitive advantage you deserve. Stay active in your community, and converse with them on the social media platforms they use every day. By taking steps to be unique, present, and accessible, you’ll have the chance to compete with one of the biggest retailers of our time. If you need a little extra capital to do it, check out BizLender online or call 855-433-8641. BizLender has been offering lending solutions since 2013, and emphasizes working smarter, not harder, by using technology to fund small businesses in as little as 24 hours.
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