With the impending arrival of Amazon into Australia, many local retailers are understandably concerned about what this means for them and their customer base.
However, before you start thinking that there’s no way your business can compete in a market with Amazon, there are seven key pillars you should consider for your business prior to the introduction of the US retail giant.
Deliver engaging, niche content
It’s important to remember that Amazon is there to shift boxes. They get stuff to you quickly and do it cost efficiently, which makes the shopping experience one of the best in the world. However, they don’t necessarily understand nor have expertise in niche offerings.
This is the space in which you, as a retailer, should be looking to become a leader. To evolve your business, you should be looking to thoroughly understand your niche and the needs of your audience above and beyond what Amazon can offer. This is an opportunity for you to present your thought leadership in the areas you specialise in.
For example, if your business’ niche is cameras, as an expert you can go beyond just selling cameras by offering unique content such as guides for finding the right camera and the latest product news. This level of thought leadership isn’t something that Amazon can deliver on.
Offer specific searchable product attributes for a better experience
A platform like Amazon has such a wide range of products, but the attributes you can filter by are fairly generic—cost, top viewed or recently added. By offering searchable attributes that are more specific to your product, you make the shopping experience easier and quicker for the customer. Going back to the camera example, you could allow customers to search by the focal point of the lens, helping shoppers to find the product they are really looking for.
Explore licensing and exclusivity deals
There are always going to be certain types of products that Amazon won’t get the license to sell. If you are selling a niche brand, you should start discussions with the supplier to see if you can secure some sort of exclusivity agreement, whether that’s by channel or geography. This could be a good differentiation point for you, and it’s good for the brand manufacturer to avoid price wars and reduced margins
Take advantage of subscription services and customised products
Subscription services are a great way to hook a lot of buyers into repeat sales and grow your margins, without having to continually drive traffic to your website. Amazon has started to offer subscriptions but only in certain categories.
Also think about how you can offer customisation of your products. Consumers are drawn to customised products, particularly for gifts. Once again, this is an area that Amazon only offers basic functionality due to its wide range.
Utilise personalised email marketing
Email marketing is certainly a strategy you should employ to create a loyal and trusting customer base. According to Salmat’s Mid-Tier Marketing Index, in 2016 we saw 61.8 per cent of mid-tier companies use email marketing, with this number expected to grow further in 2017.
Email marketing is one of the best performing digital channels in terms of ROI, because it allows brands to gain direct access to current and potential customers and implement a cycle of interactions to engage them. And engaged customers means the conversation is not just about price.
Capture Amazon’s audience through programmatic advertising
Amazon has a programmatic advertising platform which it uses on its regional sites. You could use this as a platform to reach Amazon’s audience for products they don’t sell, but you do, and drive Amazon customers to your site. Targeting Amazon customers can be lucrative, as they generally have come onto the platform looking to buy something.
Start your own Amazon store
If you’ve got something that fits the Amazon portfolio and doesn’t require a lot of thought leadership, starting your own Amazon store is a great way to find a wider audience for your products.
Amazon isn’t the end of Australian retail, and there is a lot you can start to do now that will help set you apart when the online giant finally launches here. If you pair this with strategic marketing and advertising campaigns to drive awareness, you have the best chance of success.
Ben Popplestone is the head of ecommerce and digital marketing agency Netstarter.
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