In our latest Amazon webinar with Brightpearl’s Stuart Pick we discussed the benefits of automating processes of your eCommerce business. Tech giant Amazon was initially founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, starting its days as an online book store. Within a few months it began shipping to countries in every corner of the world, continually growing leaps and bounds to become a $470 billion business spreading into almost every imaginable industry. Nowadays, Amazon represents a huge opportunity for merchants – whether you sell through them as a seller, to them as a vendor or to other businesses as a marketplace. As a market leader, Amazon represents tough competition. So how can smaller businesses such as yours learn from Amazon and follow in their footsteps? First, lets analyse why Amazon are so successful.
Why Are Amazon So Successful?
Amazon have never been content with staying in their lane. They are constantly building upon themselves and looking how to improve. This is fortified by the fact that in the last 16 months, Amazons inventory has increased by 95%, expanding from 245 million available items to 480 million. They sell everything from cookbooks to pet supplies. Even when Amazon aren’t the first to innovate in a certain field; they always make sure they are the best. The Amazon Kindle, for instance, was not the first e-reader to hit the market, but it was still undoubtedly the most successful. Similarly, Amazons Alexa was the hot topic this Christmas, selling millions of devices over the festive period. This may be because Amazon invested millions of pounds into start up businesses that will develop Alexa’s voice control and give her new skills to ensure Amazon stay ahead of competitors Apple and Google.
The main success of Amazon lies in its shipping. Technology has sped up every aspect of our lives, making modern consumers impatient. Amazon have recognised this and in response they offer free 2 day shipping to all prime members. It’s currently estimated that around 1 in 3 households in the UK have a prime membership and Amazon are constantly expanding the number of items eligible for Prime shipping. However, some reports have estimated that by offering free shipping Amazon lose around $7 billion a year. But this is a loss Amazon is willing to take as Prime membership is a powerful tool. This is because users of Prime are make purchases on Amazon more regularly than non-members, the two day delivery promise acts as an incentive.
How Can Your Business Compete With Amazon?
With Amazon dominating almost every area of the playing field, how can smaller businesses such as yours be expected to thrive with such fierce competition? We narrowed it down to 4 simple steps that will elevate your market position:
1. Be local
Sometimes being a small business is an advantage. If there is one thing that Amazon lacks it is intrinsic humanity. As a big corporation Amazon cannot create the same excitement and stories for every product they sell in the same way as a small business. This is a weakness you can take advantage of. Many consumers care about communities so try to establish your business within the local area – start participating in events, attend fayres or even sponsor a local sports team. These will all drive traffic to your business and generate a bond which encourages customers to choose you over Amazon.
2. Offer efficient shipping
As we’ve already mentioned, Amazon are excellent at rapidly packing and shipping orders. They have managed to create a very short line from the warehouse to the customers door. Smaller businesses cannot be expected to ship for cheaper and more efficiently than Amazon. But you should work to ensure that you are providing a shipping service that meets customers expectations.
Behind every front end delivery promise there is an underlying logistics operation which makes up around 80% of your businesses costs. But these processes can quickly become a money trap if you don’t automate them as your business expands. By keeping these operations manual the process is a lot slower and more prone to human error. All these unglamorous, repetitive and common jobs should consequently be automated to avoid wasting human capital.
3. Be on top of your digital marketing game!
Another area Amazon don’t excel in is content marketing. Smaller retailers need to convince customers to buy from their stores and this can be done using digital marketing to create a strong customer experience. Amazon are unlikely to ever have a strong social media personality in the same way that a smaller retailer can. Content marketing can be used to create a narrative and deeper meaning to products, which may boost the personal value of your products. As such, customers may be more likely to buy a product from you because of its individual background compared to a similar product from Amazon.
4. Centralise data
To ensure a smooth process along the entire operations line similar to Amazon it is necessary to centralise all data and process. This means that all different components of your business are working together in harmony. Without centralisation certain aspects of your business may be kept in the dark, leading to a disconnect. This feeling of disconnection, when felt by the customer, results in a negative customer experience due to a lack of confidence in the business. As such, customers are unlikely to buy from you again.