How can the small and mid-sized merchant succeed in an Amazon-first world?
Wow, I get this question a lot! With Amazon Prime Day and the retail giant putting almost $3 billion in sales on the board this year, it is definitely a hot topic and one I don’t see going away anytime soon.
The answer to that question?
Understand where you create value, but more importantly you need to capture that value for yourself.
Yes, that’s a little abstract on its own but allow me to pull it apart into two digestible bits that almost every merchant can use. Here’s how you can leverage Amazon today:
1) Amazon is better than you at many things, but not everything.
The 800lb gorilla is still a pretty horrible place to go for inspiration, value-added service, and overall discovery. I have yet to meet a person who has told me they LOVE browsing Amazon’s site when they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.
Walk into a main street retailer and they will help you find what you are looking for even if you don’t know what that is specifically. With all of Amazon’s engineering and algorithms, still hasn’t mastered this. Sure, sometimes book recommendations are pretty bang on, but the rest of the catalog recommendations often miss the mark.
Amazon is still the place you go when you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Amazon creates value by having a giant customer base that is ready to shop. Merchants can create a lot of value for the consumer by being that source of inspiration. By helping them discover new products that add value to their day to day lives.
2) Amazon is a wave, ride it!
Knowing where you can create value or consumers is only a small part of the battle. It doesn’t matter how great your product is or how amazing you are at curating products if all of the attention is being captured by Amazon.
All merchants need to master capturing more of the value they create. With the cost of technology dropping exponentially in recent years, there is no excuse for the average merchant to not be better equipped. We’re all spending more and more marketing dollars to acquire customers, but are we all spending effectively? When we do get a customer, what are we doing to keep that customer engaged with our brand?
I know what Amazon does, it is front and centre in my inbox and when I re-visit their site. They invest heavily into capturing the most value (aka – sales) from their customers over time, not just that first order. They know what each customer is worth and they go deep into maximizing that lifetime value. Are you?
Almost always I advise merchants to use Amazon’s marketplace as a point of channel leverage. This does not mean that Amazon should be your only sales channel, that’s just asking for problems!
Using Amazon as channel leverage means riding their noisy waves as they make them. When they run Prime Day, be there. Get in front of their customers with your brand so that those customers don’t just see Amazon…or worse, your competitors.
Even though the customers Amazon sells your products to are their customers, that doesn’t mean there isn’t great value for you to capture there, too. Are you offering those customers extended warranty or additional services for the products they buy on Amazon? Are you WOW’ng those customers with extra service?