Provide Customer Service That Is Personal
Plenty of consumers are drawn to a neighborhood store because of the customer service. While massive chains may offer more variety and better prices, their customer service is less personal.
Great customer service is one way online retailers compete against Amazon. Influential marketer and entrepreneur Neil Patel says, “… the best way you can stay on par with Amazon is by offering outstanding customer service.” Patel notes that two thirds of Amazon’s customers rate themselves as very satisfied with the giant’s service.
Providing knowledgeable and responsive customer service is valued by customers to compete with Amazon, according to research by GetApp Lab.
Some problems simply can’t be resolved. However, “even when customer service reps can’t resolve an issue, responsiveness and friendliness will still improve your customer service rating,” says Patel.
Let your customers know they are valued and make service a priority are two ways an online business can competing against Amazon.
Offer Niche Products
Amazon offers everything. Times three. Or so it seems. So, how can a small online retailer compete against Amazon when there are no holes in the market?
Cord DNA’s The Amazon Survival Guide: Thriving in The Age of Amazon describes the massive retailer’s offerings as “generic wares.” Therefore, small online retailers can find their own niche. Core DNA suggests, “If you have the resources, you should seek to create your own product – giving your brand a truly unique space in your industry.”
Niche markets also offer small retailers a chance to be a star. “Niche markets present opportunities for smaller companies to earn a reputation as the most informed and go-to supplier in a specific field,” according to an article from Scalefast, an eCommerce platform.
If you can identify and tap into a niche, you can become the authority in an area and reach beyond Amazon’s long shadow.
…the best way you can stay on par with Amazon is by offering outstanding customer service.
Utilize Data and Understand Your Customer
To truly understand your customer and give them what they want, you must collect relevant data. Amazon excels at this.
“They do this [collect data] to inform a lot of their marketing strategies and determine how to best serve their customers in other ways,” says Patel. Amazon’s data utilization allows them to rise above their competition.
Trying to get as much data as them is not the way online retailers compete against Amazon.
However, companies that effectively use data have 85% more sales and 25% higher gross margins than those that don’t, according to McKinsey Research. Patel encourages smaller companies to use “the resources you do have to improve your offerings.”
Have Shipping Options
Amazon loses money on shipping, but it allows them to stand out. They’ve trained customers to expect free and fast shipping. So, how can a small online retailer, for whom each dollar matters, compete with Amazon and satisfy their customers?
Scalefast adds, “While free shipping itself won’t give you the advantage you need to control significant market share, it will be hard to compete without offering some kind of ‘free shipping‘ option.” They believe it’s imperative that online retailers provide tracking details, free shipping, and no-commitment returns.
Free delivery can be more feasible if offered only for a certain dollar amount, only on certain items, or only for regular customers.
Core DNA advises “make your shipping policies clear, and … work on adding more delivery options.” Ultimately, they advise competing on reliability.
You might not be able to match all of Amazon’s shipping options, but you can give your customers perks or better position your shipping options to make the playing field feel slightly less uneven.
Consider offering renewable subscriptions for certain products that are likely to be repeat purchases.
Create a Subscription Service
There are 100 million Amazon Prime subscribers worldwide. The annual membership offers a host of benefits, including perks for shipping, streaming, and shopping. To compete with Amazon, you might consider adding a subscription service.
Subscribers turn into repeat customers as purchasing is simplified and convenient, which also encourages sales. According to Small Business Trends, 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers.
Another benefit of subscribers is they are, according to Scalefast, “an excellent way to reduce uncertainties in sales projections and secure a steady cash flow.”
Patel suggests that online retailers “consider offering renewable subscriptions for certain products that are likely to be repeat purchases.” Patel also suggests subscription-based shipping plans, offers from specific manufacturers, and product discounts for membership.
With their breadth and depth, it’s not about competing against Amazon Prime. But simply copying some of the facets of subscription services could help you grow sales and recurring revenue.
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