As a small business, you probably view Amazon as either a threat or an inspiration. Amazon seems to be growing by leaps and bounds and has become the “go to” place to go for just about everything – from gifts to groceries. Last year it created over $175 billion in revenue.
As a small business, how can you compete with such competition? It may seem like an impossible task, but do not give up just yet. With the holiday season fast approaching, you need to jump into action immediately, if you have not done so already. There is still a strong consumer base who will choose to support local and small businesses when they are able, but you must keep a few things in mind. As a small business, there is no way you can compete with such a large infrastructure, but you can definitely learn a few lessons from their business plan and be able to offer something they cannot.
- Do not compete with Amazon’s offerings
Be realistic. Unless you happen to be a major conglomerate, there is a very small chance that you will be able to invest the time and capital needed to provide anything even close to what Amazon does. Amazon utilizes their physical stores and warehouses and is now able to offer one-day, or even same-day, shipping in over 5,000 cities.
Amazon also follows the strategy of pricing out competitors and offering a wide array of selections. In fact, Amazon massive consumer product selection has increased by nearly 100% in the last 16 months, from 245 million items to 480 million. However, Amazon’s strengths can also be seen as their weaknesses. Because of the massive product offerings, Amazon cannot devote as much time to individual brand awareness and personalized shopping experiences for their products.
- Focus on a personal customer experience
A good portion of consumers still wants a personal shopping experience and involvement in individualized brand awareness. Although the “Amazon experience” is convenient and offers a wide variety of products, it lacks a personal touch.
Add simple, inexpensive touches to your products/services that make each of your customers feel important and valued. Things as simple as a small thank you note go a long way to making a personalized customer experience that will keep your consumers coming back.
- Do not compromise convenience
Consumers should not have to give up convenience to shop with you. Make the shopping experience simple and quick. Small businesses must live up to customers’ expectations, no matter what size the business is.
In a recent study, it was found that nearly 90% of consumers today perform some type of research online before making a purchase, whether online or in-store. Be sure to cater to this fact. Provide as many details as you think relevant about your items/services. Try to think of any questions a potential buyer might have.
Another great way to provide transparency and connect with your customers is to share a story about your item or service. Another huge advantage you should capitalize on is any non-profits or causes that you support. Customers are more likely to choose an item that has a well-known story or cause. Purpose-driven brands are quickly acquiring more and more followers and supporters.
- Be available
The first few steps to better customer service are making sure that you provide sufficient information about your business and products up front for your customers. If your consumers can easily access frequently asked questions without having to contact you, it will save you time and cut down on business time spent answering basic questions.
Obviously, customer communication during business hours should be answered almost immediately. After hours, you could consider some type of automated response. It is generally very simple to set up an auto-response email or message that informs customers when you will be available or be able to answer their question.
- Focus on your uniqueness
This is your most powerful advantage – uniqueness. Amazon is able to offer such a massive variety of products, and while it is convenient, it does not provide a personalized experience. Focus on what makes your business or service unique. Know your product niche inside and out and target your specific audience.
Social media and online presence play a huge role in promoting your uniqueness and increasing your brand awareness today. Take advantage of social media, email marketing, Google AdWords, etc. to target your specific audience.
With the holiday’s fast approaching, hopefully, your business is ready. If not, then do your best to put the above-mentioned tips to practice.