It’s a tale as old as time. David versus Goliath. An underdog facing impossible odds. But an epic story alone isn’t enough to stave off extinction when it comes to retail and e-commerce. Especially when the threat at hand is Amazon, a company with a market cap of over $900 billion USD. Is it possible to compete with the world’s largest company? No. But that’s only a problem if you plan on taking them head on.
Here’s how retail and e-commerce businesses can survive the age of Amazon.
Provide more than a service or product — create an experience
Customer service is king. Show that you care by reconceptualising what you are offering. And by that I mean think beyond the parameters of goods and/or services. Think about how you can create an experience that enhances the moment. Maybe it’s reducing friction from the exchange, adding just that little bit of extra convenience to make the process more seamless, or maybe it’s simply ensuring there’s someone to provide some friendly (non-obstructive) conversation. Whatever the case, the goal is to offer more value to the consumer.
Don’t try to be another big company, capitalise on what makes your operation unique
The number one mistake people make in this space is trying to operate like they’re a giant. But unless you have the cash flow, you’re going to fail. Double down on what makes your smaller operation unique and capitalise on that. Take advantage of being on the ground level, listen to what consumers really want, tailor your business accordingly. Being smaller means you might be able to manoeuvre more freely than the larger competitors, and perhaps even fulfill more specific niches. So while you might not get any sweeping international wins, I can almost guarantee some local ones.
Focus on building loyalty over moving bulk units
Avoid chasing the instant gratification of moving bulk units or trying to push consumers to spend the most that they can in one go. Instead, think more about the long term. Come up with strategies to build ongoing loyalty which will in turn be beneficial to customer retention. On the same note, never underestimate the power of recurring revenue. Adequate momentum behind these two aspects will free you up to pursue new customers.
Invest in digital marketing
Digital marketing is the grand equaliser that may not completely level the playing field, but it’ll at least give you a fighting chance against the incumbents. In the realm of digital, a small business can cast a large shadow. Well optimised SEO, target SEM, even PPC to an extent — leveraging the right tools guided by the right strategy at exactly the right time holds tremendous potential. The power of digital marketing, while not 100% democratic, is probably the closest you will encounter to a perfect democracy in this lifetime.