It’s been the talk of the town for a while: Amazon, the world’s biggest online shopping mall, is opening its virtual doors Down Under. The way people are reacting to Amazon launching in Australia, you’d think that the world is ending. (Cue the apocalyptic music).
Yes, Amazon is planning to undercut existing Australian brands by as much as 30%. That’s not all – Morgan Stanley has also predicted that Wesfarmers (which owns Target and Kmart) will lose $428 million in earnings by 2026.
I get it – it’s enough to cause retailers and eCommerce store owners to start quaking in their pants. But that doesn’t mean that you should just roll over and play dead… far from it! It’s time to do some serious strategizing, and figure out how you can hold your own against Amazon. Here are a few techniques which will help you get started!
1. Engage your best customers
Ever heard of Pareto’s law? This basically states that you can apply an 80/20 principle to just about anything in your life. For instance, it’s likely that 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your customers. Bearing this in mind, be sure to survey these customers, so that you can get to know them on a deeper level. Maybe you’ll learn that they shop at your store because they get plenty of good recommendations on the forum of your website. If that’s the case, you should invest more into said forum, and building up your community!
2. Become a category killer
What’s a category killer? This is a retailer or an online store which specializes in, and offers an extensive selection of products within a given category. Instead of spreading yourself thinly over a few categories, you want to really go in niche in one particular category that you’re an expert on. For example, at Bike Chaser, we focus solely on bicycle products, and we sell every imaginable bike and bike accessory that there is on the market. Bike aficionados and enthusiasts have a better experience on our site as opposed to Amazon because we carry more bikes and bike-related gear (some of these products may be too niche for Amazon or its resellers to stock).
3. Utilise the power of social media
Use social media to build your brand. If you’re a small to medium enterprise, you have the advantage of being able to capitalize on a certain authenticity that’s hard for corporations and conglomerates (such as Amazon!) to replicated. Use Facebook Live videos, Instagram stories, and YouTube videos to introduce your customers to your team, and show them what your brand and company is really about.
With Bike Chaser, we regularly upload videos on our YouTube channel; these run the gamut from bike reviews to our training programs and cycling adventures. As long as you build up that rapport with your audience, you’ll find that a lot of people are happy to support a local, smaller establishment over a larger MNC such as Amazon!
4. Go for exclusivity
Here’s Amazon’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – it has an overwhelmingly huge selection of brand name products on their site, and they offer the cheapest prices on these items. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that trying to one-up them in this area is a bad, bad idea. So, what should you be doing instead? Try and secure exclusive deals with unique, smaller brands. You can even create your own private label products; in fact, consumer electronics retailer Best Buy used this exact strategy to defend their market position against Amazon when the latter first got huge in the US.
5. Include reviews on your eCommerce store
One great thing about Amazon is that customers can click onto any product they’re thinking of buying, and immediately gain access to a multitude of reviews left by other customers. And bearing in mind that 72% of buyers will take action only after reading a positive review, you’re definitely losing out to Amazon if you don’t have enable reviews (plus encourage your shoppers to leave reviews!) on your eCommerce store.
How do you encourage your shoppers to leave reviews? Simple. Include a short call-to-action on your label (or any inserts that you might have in your package) to request for your shopper to leave a review; alternatively, utilize this same call-to-action on your post-purchase emails which you send to your customer. If you’d like to go one step further and incentivize them to leave reviews, come up with a simple scheme that will allow them to get free delivery or 5% off their next purchase once they leave you a review!
Amazon will definitely shake things up once it launches in Australia, but think of it not as a threat, but as an opportunity to streamline your eCommerce business and take it to the next level. The Australian eCommerce market is growing at a rapid pace, so it’s definitely not an only one shall survive type situation. There are plenty of profits to be made for everyone!
Jonas Christensen is co-founder of Bike Chaser, an online marketplace for bicycle products.