Amazon is a behemoth that dominates the eCommerce world. If shoppers want a product, they’re almost certain to find it on Amazon. They know it’ll arrive in good time. And they know that Amazon has great customer service and a customer-friendly return policy.
How can small eCommerce stores compete? First, it’s obvious that small eCommerce stores can compete because there are thousands of flourishing eCommerce stores — many of them use our eCommerce hosting platform.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to compete against a brand with the name-recognition and market penetration of Amazon. Let’s take a look at some of the ways smaller eCommerce stores can stand out from the crowd.
In many ways, Amazon’s scale isn’t an advantage at all. It can’t easily experiment with its brand or create a brand that appeals to a niche audience. The Everything Store must be all things to all shoppers.
Smaller stores, on the other hand, are free to focus their branding on specific groups, something we see most prominently with fashion eCommerce retailers. Brand is a big deal where fashion is concerned, and boutique eCommerce stores can directly shape their brand message and design to a specific audience.
Build A Community
People like to spend money with businesses they approve of, identify with, and feel affection for. In the modern eCommerce world, there are any number of ways for a brand to build a solid community of shoppers who will keep buying from what becomes their store.
Branding is important here, but eCommerce retailers should also focus on content marketing and social media to forge an authentic identity.
A friend of mine loves rare science fiction books. Many of the books he buys are available on Amazon or eBay, but he refuses to buy from those retailers because he values the in-depth knowledge and personal touch of a smaller retailer — a retailer he’s never met in real life and is based in a different country.
Smaller retailers that specialize in a particular type of product, whether that’s books, engraved spoons, bespoke dresses, or whatever, have an advantage — they can use their personal knowledge about the products they sell to build lasting and authentic relationships with customers.
My friend can’t send an email to Amazon asking if a book he wants to buy is the rare 1947 edition with a misprint on page fifty. He can do that with his preferred retailer, and that’s why he’s loyal to them.
Domain knowledge and an authentic passion for the product is key to generating customer loyalty.
Quite often, customers don’t want to choose from 300 slightly different versions of the same product. They want someone with taste and knowledge to choose for them and present a selection of the best. Once they trust that your eCommerce store is great at curating the best selection of products, you’ll have a customer for life.
Amazon’s size gives it many advantages, but it can’t do authentic, it can’t do niche branding, and it can’t curate with the individual sensibility many shoppers yearn for. Small retailers can, which is why they’ll continue to flourish.