According to a study by eMarketer, Amazon controls 40.4% of all e-commerce sales in the United States today.
In fact, with over 300 million active customer accounts, Amazon could soon be considered a monopoly.
It’s clear that competing against giants like this will be difficult for any online business, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done successfully or that you should just give up without trying at all.
Fortunately, there are plenty of niche markets out there where your store can compete and win – even if it’s against an eCommerce giant doing everything they can do to get more sales.
Here are some ideas for Competing with eCommerce giants :
Offer Something Different
One of the best ways to compete with eCommerce giants is by differentiating your online store from theirs.
How can you compete with a massive business that already has everything going for it? The answer lies in the fact that there are things they don’t have going for them.
Sure, Amazon might be a better choice for anyone looking to buy books, but what if someone wants a book on gardening instead?
It could be worth checking out other sources first. Or what if someone wants furniture or clothing after searching “home decor?” That person might not find exactly what they want on Amazon or eBay.
Your furniture store, on the other hand, would probably do very well in this situation because it specializes in exactly what that person is looking for.
This doesn’t mean you should compete directly with Amazon and eBay by selling the same things they sell.
If your online store does that, then it might be able to compete based on price or selection, but not if people can already get what they want from these eCommerce giants.
Your niche should be something completely different such as gardening equipment, pet supplies, clothing for tall women, etc.
Low Prices vs High Quality
A lot of times, Competing with eCommerce giants against smaller online stores based on low prices.
They either offer lower prices themselves or compete via undercutting their suppliers in a never-ending race to the bottom in terms of pricing.
Disadvantages of this method include: losing money, damaging your business, and devaluing the quality of your products or services.
One way to compete with this method is by offering amazing deals and discounts on a more limited basis: for example, during holiday sales.
This can be just as effective as constant price wars without having any of the downsides mentioned above.
People love great deals and will remember that you provided them when they’re thinking about where to buy certain items from in the future.
Maybe they’ll even start following you regularly like they would an eCommerce giant such as Amazon!
Exclusive Deals & Services
Another way to compete with eCommerce giants is by offering something exclusive rather than competing directly on price or selection alone.
For, if your online store offers exclusive deals, then it has the advantage of being more desirable on its own.
If you sell the same products as an eCommerce giant and compete via lower prices or better selection, what happens if they match your prices? Or, if they make their selection even larger, include something you don’t have? It leaves you back at square one with nothing to compete on besides price alone.
Exclusive deals allow you to compete with eCommerce giants without having to compete directly on pricing or selection.
You can win by enticing people into buying from your store rather than fulfilling some other need that another business is already satisfying for them.
This could include special bonus options during checkout, member discounts based on how much they spend in a given time, or exclusive deals that are only available via your online store.
If you do compete on price, make sure it’s through offering the lowest prices possible rather than competing with eCommerce companies via never-ending sales and discounts.
It’s better to compete upfront by offering the best quality at the actual market price rather than continuously lowering your quality just to compete with other online stores.
If people are constantly being enticed to buy from you because of amazing deals, then they’ll have less reason to compare prices before making a purchase.
Unique Packing & Delivery Methods
Competing directly against eCommerce giants can also be difficult if you’re trying to compete solely based on pricing or selection rather than differentiating yourself with exclusive offers.
An additional way to compete with eCommerce giants is by differentiating yourself based on your packing and delivery methods.
Amazon has mastered the art of extremely fast delivery. They’ve invested billions in facilities, supply chains, and services that allow them to ship things out at speeds that were unheard of just a decade ago.
Now companies that compete against Amazon don’t just compete with low prices, but also through their speedy deliveries.
This can be accomplished with faster shipping options, more efficient delivery networks, or even exclusive courier partnerships (such as Postmates).
Another point of differentiation can be focusing on building great customer relationships via post-purchase follow-ups.
For example, if an e giant offers free shipping for orders that are over a certain threshold, compete with them by offering free shipping on all orders.
Or, if they offer free return shipping, compete with them by offering an unconditional 100% refund no questions asked.
Many people don’t feel comfortable leaving reviews for digital goods because of the fear of getting their email accounts hacked.
This is where personalized packing and delivery options can come in handy.
Competing eCommerce giants such as Amazon have to compete based on price or selection alone because adding these types of value-adds would be too expensive.
If you’re operating within a smaller budget, then you probably won’t be able to compete with their prices or selection anyways; so you might as well compete via other means like exclusive deals, faster shipping, post-purchase follow-ups, or personalized packing.
Create Your Own Products, Serve the Vacuum
If you’re a retail business, you must be considering releasing new and unique items to the market.
Amazon has established a solid position in general retail through bespoke deals with major brands like Calvin Klein that are already all over the internet.
It’s hard for you to compete against a company that thrives on ammunition stored at the opponent’s headquarters.
Focus on niches that are under-served or otherwise lacking, develop your own brands and ideas, allowing you to sell goods that are beyond the reach of the competition.
You have a better chance of winning if you become an inventor instead of relying on the traditional marketplace.
A quick search through Kickstarter will demonstrate the potential of the average inventor and the opportunities that still exist in retail.
Be More Personable, Be More Human
The strategies outlined above can be very effective in helping you compete with eCommerce giants, but they won’t work if you don’t follow through with them wholeheartedly.
You need to make sure that your customers and employees know that you’ve invested in the process and believe in what you do.
People want to feel like their business matters, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to be compared to Amazon.
Use social media as a platform to interact with consumers on an individual basis, give them coupons for discounts, send personalized newsletters or post-purchase follow-ups (even if you only sell digital products).
If nothing else, just reply back when they contact you. A few minutes of human engagement can go a long way in the modern age and will make your business stand out from your competitors.
The eCommerce giants compete largely on scale and numbers, but you don’t have to compete with them in this arena.
Focus on providing value for customers instead of competing directly with Amazon or eBay.
Compete where you have an advantage, whether it be customer service, personalized packing, exclusive deals or even inventing new products. You can compete by filling in the gaps that are missing in their businesses.
Use Social Media to Promote Your Store and Its Products
Use social media to promote your store and its products. If you don’t have a business Facebook or Twitter account then it’s time you create one.
Social media gives your business the chance to compete with eCommerce giants by having easy access to potential customers with relative ease.
Use promotion codes on social networks to drive traffic back to your online store.
Work on Your Email Marketing Strategy
Aside from social media, another effective way to compete with eCommerce giants is through email marketing strategies.
You can compete back to their business by offering them targeted content that will keep the user engaged and coming back for more.
This form of marketing is less expensive than PPC or SEO and has a higher return on investment.
Moreover, you can experiment with different engagement strategies without spending too much money.
Focus on Local Customers
eCommerce giants are focused on gaining market share everywhere at once, which can be costly given their bloated budgets.
As an e-commerce store owner, your main focus should be local customers.
Get your feet wet in your local market first before attempting to compete against Amazon globally. Compete locally by having an online presence in your area.
Compete in Ways Big Retailers Can’t Match
Competition is always there for eCommerce giants, but you can compete in ways that they wouldn’t expect, which is the key to success. You compete differently by being personal and human rather than being corporate.
Your customers are more likely to spend money with a business that remembers their name rather than one that merely needs their address information to ship them an item or two.
Your customers will spend more when they feel like they have an emotional connection with the business owner.
You compete with eCommerce by being versatile, able to adapt based on new technologies, trends, and consumer behavior.
Don’t compete just because you think you should compete; compete because you want to compete. Make sure your business is willing to compete for the long haul, not just the short term.
If you can compete successfully against eCommerce giants like Amazon, then you’ll have won half the battle.
The market is wide open for anyone under them who’s willing to take a chance and compete on their own terms.
You don’t have to beat Amazon to be successful, but you do need to learn how to compete with them in your niche space.
And once you’ve established a following, it will much easier to seek out a strong business relationship.
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