Differentiate from Amazon to attract more customers

by | Dec 27, 2017

When it comes to retail sales, no one is going to out-Walmart Walmart. The retail giant is big enough that its retail buying power is compared to entire countries. It’s the same with e-commerce giant Amazon: Try as you might, you’re not going to out-Amazon Amazon. It’s the veritable 900 pound gorilla in a room full of talking bananas.

So instead of “just” trying to keep up, including services and offerings to differentiate from Amazon can entice more people to buy products from you rather than your competition. That is to say, I believe retailers should attempt to keep up with the efficiencies and improvements Amazon is putting into play, but then also playing up your areas of strength that could be different than Amazon’s areas of strength.

Let’s say you sell woodworking tools. Maybe you even carry some of the same woodworking tools that Amazon carries. But you can differentiate from Amazon by offering additional education and information that Amazon may not offer.

For example, you could hold online webinars for using some of those tools, or offer a special video series similar to the woodworking videos you can now find on YouTube. You could also send out video newsletters that are only available to customers and newsletter subscribers for free, but are kept private for the first six months after their publication. After that, they can be released to the public where they can continue to help market you company.

On the retail services side, you can improve your shipping and fulfillment efforts. You might not be able to offer free two-day shipping just yet, but you might be able to find enough efficiencies as well as find the right drop-ship enabled partners which could allow you to eventually offer it. Then, the two-day shipping might pay for itself.

For local stores, try offering same-day delivery or free curbside pickup for orders over a certain amount. You can also ship from your local stores, or even offer buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS). This is certainly faster than any two-day delivery, because the customer can drive straight to the store and know their order is waiting for them.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. You can always join the Amazon Marketplace as a way to get your products on the site, and to snap up a share of the marketplace for your products. If possible, you can even offer new products or private label products that haven’t been offered on Amazon before.

Or try rewarding loyalty for your customers. Create a loyalty program for returning customers, similar to the programs at your favorite coffee shops. You can also create a referral program that rewards customers who tell their friends and family about your stores. Look into offering subscription box services to your customers, as subscription boxes have grown in popularity. And on a related note, create a repeat order program that automatically refills a customer’s regular orders, like shipping a box of 24 diapers every 10 days to parents of infants, or a pound of coffee every week.

Although Amazon has set the bar for customer expectations for e-commerce shopping, it’s still worth trying some of these tactics because they are effective, no matter who’s doing them. Customers love two-day shipping, and loyalty programs create more long-term customer value. They’re a great way to differentiate from Amazon as a retailer, not only from the international giant, but from other competitors in your area or your particular niche. Ultimately that creates value for your customers, which leads to greater satisfaction and more future sales.

To learn more about how SPS Commerce can help, please visit our website at www.spscommerce.com. There, you can receive a free demonstration of our different cloud-based SaaS products, or speak to a representative to answer any questions you may have.

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Brandon Pierre

Brandon Pierre

Customer Success Executive at SPS Commerce
As a customer success executive at SPS, Brandon Pierre works alongside many retailers and suppliers to develop strategies to address their merchandising and supply chain business objectives. With more than 14 years in the buying organization at major retailers, he has experienced first-hand the opportunities of the digital era and how technology can transform the consumer experience through improved retailer and supplier connections.
Brandon Pierre

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