Is Amazon stealing business from your eCommerce site? With Amazon dominating the market, it may seem like an impossible task to win customers over the e-commerce giant. Even though Amazon is capturing around 40% of online retail sales in the US, it’s possible to have your online shoppers prefer your site over Amazon’s.
In this article, we will explore 5 proven strategies that will help you differentiate your brand, connect with customers on a deeper level, ultimately win their loyalty, and learn how to compete with Amazon. From leveraging social media and influencer marketing to providing exceptional customer service and offering personalized shopping experiences, these strategies will empower you to carve out your own space in the online marketplace, and prevent Amazon from cannibalizing all of your site’s sales.
Develop your unique value prop to differentiate your brand from the giants
What makes your products or services special? What unique benefits do you offer that your competitors don’t and that the big retailers can’t communicate? It’s crazy how often brands do this poorly, but clearly defining and communicating your brand's unique selling points will help you stand out in a sea of competitors.
Amazon isn’t capable of connecting with customers on as deep a level as an individual eCommerce business. They speak to the masses by offering: 1) Everything, 2) Ease-of-use, and 3) Fast and cheap shipping. An individual company can’t offer all of these things, but they can speak in more detail to a customer’s specific needs and emotions with their value prop. E-commerce companies can use this as an advantage to create stronger bonds with their audience.
It's crucial to craft a compelling brand story that resonates with your target audience. Your brand story should communicate your values, mission, and the problem you solve for your customers. By creating an emotional connection through storytelling, you can build trust and loyalty, making the emotional cost of switching higher for customers to just go find your products on Amazon.
Remember, differentiation is not just about product features; it's also about creating a memorable brand experience. From your website design and packaging to your customer service and follow-up, every touchpoint should reflect your unique brand identity. By consistently delivering a remarkable experience, you can build a strong brand reputation that sets you apart from Amazon's standardized approach.
Enhancing customer experience by providing exceptional service and convenience with a personal touch
There is no way in Hades you’re going to be able to offer more products than Amazon, or ship consistently faster. However, you can beat them where there are opportunities to personally interact with your audience. Again, focus on doing what Amazon doesn’t, can’t, or won’t.
Start by investing in excellent customer service with a personal touch. Train your customer support team to be knowledgeable, friendly, and responsive. Encourage them to go above and beyond to solve customer issues and exceed expectations.
Surprising a customer with how exceptional your customer experience is can create brand advocates for your company. By providing personalized assistance and prompt resolutions, you can build customer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals.
If staffing a large customer service team doesn’t make sense financially for your business, then the number of automated AI solutions are increasing and getting better by the day. Check out FlixCX, HiOperator, or Zowie if this sounds like this may be a better fit for you.
Consider offering unique services that Amazon may not provide. For example, you could offer FREE gift wrapping (Amazon charges for it, and I wouldn’t consider it anything special), personalized product recommendations based on their input, or a concierge service for high-value customers.
Companies that are killing this will start by gathering a small amount of information from their visitors, then turn those answers into curated recommendations. Go the extra mile and create a memorable experience that keeps customers coming back to you instead of seeking out your product on Amazon.
Lastly, consider offering convenient and flexible shipping options. While Amazon may have fast shipping, you can maintain the status quo and at least not give up too much ground by offering free same-day or next-day delivery for local customers. Alternatively, you could offer free shipping with no minimum order value, making it easier for customers to shop with you.
Create customer loyalty and community…bend the knee.
Everyone has a loyalty program, and frankly, they’ve all become a little boring. While you still need to do the bare minimum (discounts, points, rewards, perks, etc.), you also need to create a loyalty program with some juice and do the work to figure out what your customers truly value in the long term.
Do they simply want points toward their next purchase? Would curated recommendations sent to their inbox every month be interesting? Maybe it’s exclusive offers that only signing up will give them access to.
We recently came across a loyalty program in the eCommerce market with an interesting business model. Nector.io offers companies loyalty programs where points towards purchases are transferable. I know it sounds crazy to give loyal customers points that they can use elsewhere, but it works both ways.
Additionally, focus on building a community around your brand. There is no Amazon community where users go to staunchly defend Amazon against lawsuits from the FTC or protect Bezos from haters who think he should stick to books instead of spaceships.
However, you have the ability to create a space where customers can connect with each other, share their experiences, and provide feedback (to other customers AND your company). These communities can be gold mines for figuring out what your audience loves about you. Use this data to create insights and action plans for continuous improvement.
This community-building approach not only fosters loyalty but also creates a sense of belonging and exclusivity that Amazon can’t offer. Creating this type of community for your customers can create brand advocates that will create new brand advocates who will promote your products and defend against the competition.
Make sure you're doing the basics correctly
It’s essential to make sure you’ve optimized the user experience and customer journey on your website. Most customers will find your website before they go to Amazon. A frustrating and difficult user experience will send online shoppers to the familiarity of Amazon with the simple click of a button. User testing and screen recording can help you eliminate bottlenecks in your navigation, and implementing a search feature will allow visitors to find products on their own terms.
Make sure your checkout process is as easy as possible by implementing 1-click payment options (i.e. Apply Pay, Shop Pay, Google Pay, etc.). This can help simplify the process without necessitating the need for visitors to pull out their wallet or enter shipping information.
Offer free and fast shipping whenever possible. Amazon has created an environment of impatience for online shoppers now that they can order almost anything and get it within a day or two. Unfortunately, this may not always be realistic for all retailers as shipping costs increase, but it’s important to remain competitive when you can.
Use data and analytics to generate insights and make informed business decisions
You don’t have to have a robust or enterprise level analytics platform to get started (but it does help). Shopify and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) can help you set up the reports to determine where you’re struggling and succeeding.
Utlize GA4’s conversion funnels to see where your drop offs are, and if you’re not comfortable with GA4 then Shopify’s platform is a lot more user friendly to track your analytics. However, there a TONS of tutorials for GA4 on YouTube, and it would be a worthy investment of time to familiarize yourself with it.
Utilize your Shopify and/or GA4 data to optimize your marketing efforts. Analyze the performance of different channels, campaigns, and messaging to identify what resonates most with your target audience. Understanding which marketing tactics are most effective will allow you to allocate your resources more efficiently to maximize your ROI and increase your profit margins.
Lastly, A/B (split testing) is a must have for any serious eCommerce business. Implement testing to experiment with different on page strategies and optimize your website's performance. Test different layouts, calls-to-action, and messaging to identify the most effective elements. With continuous testing and optimization, you’ll ensure your user experience isn’t the reason people are leaving your site and seeking out your products for the familiarity of Amazon.
Conclusion: Taking Action
Remember, you don’t have to beat Amazon or giant retailers at their own game. You just need to create a user experience that adds value to your audience that they can’t get from other retailers. Knowing your audience intimately is the best way to deliver this.