Should Retailers Compete Against Amazon?

Amazon is definitely no push over in comparison to their competition. The e-commerce behemoth is the largest in the world and seems to be swallowing everything in its path. While it’s true there’s no way to compete with Amazon head-on, unless the business is a massive brick-and-mortar store like Walmart, there are other ways to use your own strengths. Amazon has access to massive amounts of data, but so do all retailers. Retailers need to differentiate their brand. That means private innovation or new product lines. Competing with Amazon means changing the rules of the game. While the company has had control of the e-commerce sector for years, businesses are becoming savvier. Still, it might not be data and analytics that wins out against Amazon. To compete against Amazon, retailers must learn to engage differently.

Is it Worth it to Compete?

While major retailers such as Walmart and Target are more than capable of leveraging their data to compete against Amazon, smaller businesses might struggle to gain footing against the e-commerce giant.

The true way to ‘compete’ is to co-exist as many businesses are. There are other ways in which businesses can thrive in this system which seems so dominated by Amazon. It’s all about finding the advantages each individual business has that can stand up to the challenge. Creating privately owned brands, for instance, is a good way to stand out from the crowd. With a private product line, businesses can offer customers a specific type of product that only they sell. Retailers can target their audiences specifically, catering to each group.

Pricing is also an important aspect of competing with Amazon, since customers will usually check online to see if they can get the same item cheaper. It’s why stores such as Best Buy offer price matching so they won’t lose customers. This is even more important for newer, private product lines since consumers will still look elsewhere if they think they can find a similar item cheaper.

Advantages Against Amazon

As said, the e-commerce retailer has a host of data at its disposal which helps drive low prices and offer a personalized marketing experience. However, what it lacks is a human touch. Having a primarily online presence, Amazon can’t offer the type of customer service that a more traditional store can. Having excellent customer service can be a big boon to your business because it shows the customer you care.  A company such as Amazon can’t provide one-on-one assistance with problems, but a small business can with a modest operation. This builds personal customer relationships, something that Amazon can’t do on such a large scale.

Traditional brick-and-mortar stores also have advantages against Amazon. Companies like Walmart and Target are using their physical locations to cut down on shipping costs and speeding up delivery. By offering in-store pick-up they bring customers to their stores and encourage them to buy more. This can really compete with Amazon Prime, since the major draw of the program is for its free fast shipping. Retailers are also getting on that bandwagon by offering loyalty reward programs which give discounts and faster shipping options to those enrolled.

Furthermore,  traditional retailers have the presence of employees.

If a customer requires assistance they can easily ask someone in-store for help. Whether it’s with make-up, looking for a specific product, or information on electronics, employees can be looked to as experts. In a similar vein, even with AR technology looking to bridge the gap between the digital and physical realms, people still like to interact with products before buying. That’s something Amazon can’t match.  Stores provide demonstrations and testing for products, allowing customers to see them in action before purchasing. It’s not quite the same watching a video online.

While it may be difficult to compete with the e-commerce behemoth that is Amazon, traditional retailers can make their mark. Considering they still have the lead in brick-and-mortar store sales, the likelihood of an entirely online marketplace is slim. People still want to shop in store and interact with both products and other people for information. Though it may be convenient to shop online, retailers are becoming savvier. They are finding ways to draw people to their stores as well as online, by offering competitive prices and similar shopping options. It’s starting to look as if Amazon might truly have some contenders as time wares on. With retailers also putting more stock in private labels and products, the competition between retailers and Amazon might get more heated.

Sharon Shichor is the CEO of Eighteen Knowledge Group LLC, your solution and knowledge base for brand building and getting your products and services in the hands of consumers.

Want to learn more about Marketing solutions and trends? Visit our company page and blog for more on the subjects that affect your company’s daily operations the most!

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