In a recent report from SmarterHQ, Cheetah Digital, LiveClicker, and MailCharts, one of the top priorities for marketers was developing a plan to compete with Amazon. Touting a large product array and easy and fast shipping, the Seattle-based behemoth has put pressure on many traditional retailers to remain relevant.
Retail Dive reported that according to Criteo, “Retailers not selling through Amazon but that anticipated Amazon’s timing generated the highest sustained peak, with a 30% increase in sales over the course of the week.”
We tapped into our own subject matter experts to provide 12 ways marketers can compete in the age of Amazon.
1. Buy online, pick up in-store
With online shopping, there is still a need for instant gratification. Not only does this allow for impulse purchases to be picked up faster than even Amazon can deliver, but the majority of customers also make additional purchases while in store. Tactile experiences are important for everything from cosmetics to electronics to clothing.
2. In-Store experience
Create a memorable in-store experience. Despite advances in AR and VR, nothing really replaces the right in-store experience. Many consumers will always prefer trying on an item in the store or seeing something in person before they buy. Embrace this by making it worth the time to be in a physical store.
3. Coupon and loyalty reward
Keep buyers coming back for more. Airlines do this by rewarding credit card purchasers with free checked bags and lounge experiences, Pier 1 Imports and Eddie Bauer give certificates to redeem each quarter. Find a way to build a stronger relationship with your brand that offers something Amazon doesn’t.
4. Delivery options
Consumers want the Amazon shipping experience, and other brands need to give it to them, either through fast and/or free shipping. Although returns aren’t ideal and can be expensive, ensure that the return policy is straightforward. Understand that if it is hard to return an item, it might not get purchased at all.
5. Unique value proposition
Retailers should focus on those things which make them different and unique. Does your brand have a lot of heritage and history? Do you offer exclusive, limited batches of your products? Is there easily accessible customer service? Do you offer services that connect the online and in-store experience? Find a way to stand out.
6. Customer reviews
Over 80% of consumers trust reviews as much as their friends. Amazon offers a wide variety and large volume of reviews to help with the conversion process. Although fewer than ten percent of consumers tend to leave reviews, a robust review process that is prominently featured on the site with photographs and verified, real-life customer experiences can give subscribers trust in the product and the brand. Review sections are often an unexplored opportunity on a company’s website, from a content and a trust perspective.
7. Product exclusivity
There are many brands that will partner with retailers to offer specific items unique to them. This could range from a standard item in a unique colour to offering a certain style or print only with that retailer. This is a method that works well for companies like Moda Operandi and Net-a-Porter who have taken the time to hone strong relationships with fashion brands. This could work on the lower end as well if retailers take the time to nurture relationships with up and coming brands, or those that resonate well with their customer base.
8. Better product pages
Amazon is able to steal share from even the types of items people typically prefer to see in person because they build comprehensive product pages featuring lots of reviews, videos, detailed descriptions, extensive angles of photos, etc. Other digital players need to take the time and money to invest in how they are showcasing products online. Hidden reviews and a few bullets just won’t cut it anymore in a world of information overload.
9. Price matching, even to Amazon prices
While some consumers are fixated on quality, others are still driven by price. For consumers who browse showrooms, this is even more important. Imagine a world where you could save the subscriber from purchasing online simply by matching the price? Multi-channel retailers have the ability to upsell and/or cross-sell too.
10. Use compelling images
Many digital experiences are primarily visual. Standing out with great imagery also helps build stronger social following, influencer marketing, and innate mobile benefits. Many retailers have made Instagram and Pinterest huge revenue channels by using beautiful imagery.
11. Tell better stories
Develop content marketing plans that tell the story of your brand and products. How-to’s, brand points of view on how the products can apply to different styles, and even origin stories work extremely well. Give your customers more to learn and interact with.
12. Don’t forget email
Every one of the above tactics can be supported, promoted, and amplified with email and other marketing channels. It is important to remind customers about these programs and differentiators on an ongoing basis.
Chris Moody is the head of global content at Cheetah Digital, where he leads a content team to help B2C marketers be even more successful with their cross-channel marketing efforts. Chris frequently speaks at leading marketing events and guest lectures at universities on effective marketing with limited budgets. Chris may be the only person in the world with "That's what she said" on his wedding band.