May 07, 2019

9 Ways to Survive the Amazon Effect as an eCommerce Store

These days a person can pretty much purchase anything they can think of off of Amazon.com and it is fantastic for any person who loves online shopping or needs an item last minute and cannot make it to the store for whatever reason. I cannot count the number of times I have forgotten to purchase something for a party, holiday or event and Amazon has saved me with their fast shipping and broad selection of products. Sound familiar, anyone?

Amazon is well known for their speedy shipping, vast array of products and brand names, discounted products and more. If you become an Amazon Prime member, which is a service within Amazon.com, you will get a ton of other great perks including: two day shipping for products labeled "Prime", better deals and promotions, discounts at Whole foods stores, and access to Amazon Prime's library of free music, movies, books, articles and more. Everyday it seems like they are adding more benefits to being an Amazon Prime member only increasing the likelihood of continued dominance in the eCommerce industry as a whole. So all in all, Amazon.com has been great from a consumer standpoint however if you are running your own eCommerce store and see Amazon as a direct competitor, you may have a different opinion.

What is the Amazon Effect exactly?

The Amazon Effect is a term coined by the enormous success and rise of Amazon.com within the eCommerce retail industry and the impact it has had on both online and traditional stores. Luckily for you there are many marketing tactics and strategies that Amazon is currently doing that can offer inspiration and ideas on how to improve your store and online presence. These tips and takeaways will help you stay in line with some of the many ways Amazon.com has revolutionized the eCommerce industry and a customer’s expectations of the online shopping experience as a whole.

1. Fast & free shipping is mandatory
Because of Amazon Prime's 2-day shipping policy for most items in stock, customers are starting to expect their deliveries out fast and for free across the internet. The truth is Amazon has uprooted the expectations of how long shipping should take. Most people are also not used to paying for shipping anymore because of Amazon Prime including it in the yearly membership so it is important to also consider offering free or discounted shipping. At a bare minimum, you should consider at least offering free shipping to the continental USA. You could also consider offering free shipping only if a customer spends over a certain amount like many eCommerce stores offer.

2. Custom, easy-to-navigate user-interface design
Be sure to design and plan for a website with a navigation structure and sitemap that are easy-to-follow and intuitive to use similar to Amazon. No, we aren't saying copy Amazon or any other website directly but you can use them as inspiration and ideas for different website elements like: the main navigation structure and how it is organized, search bar prominence, location and design of banner ads and specialty products, suggested or related products and more.

3. Intuitive, easy mobile experience
Along with a clean user-interface design and organized navigation structure, it's critical to make sure your mobile website is top notch and easy-to-use. According to BigCommerce.com, by 2021 we are expecting to see 54% of all eCommerce sales to be done on a mobile device and that is being on the conservative side. Now more than ever it is crucial to make sure your mobile site translates well on each device to stay competitive against big name brand websites like Amazon.


4. Leverage social media with different sales and campaigns

Your social media websites are great avenues to promote your products, brand and different deals to a broader audience than just through your website alone. Since Amazon.com is such a massive eCommerce site with many different products, social media advertising is a great way you can differentiate yourself by being more specific to your products and brand. Consider promoting your products and brand on social media with targeted ads, contests and giveaways, custom graphics, interesting product related facts and more.

5. Plan giveaways and contests to attract more followers
We recommend that you plan a few giveaways and contests to attract followers and potential customers from time to time. Giveaways and contests usually require the customers to share and promote the contest itself in turn promoting your business and brand to a broader audience.
  • Tip: A smart time to plan a giveaway is around holiday or event when people are looking to spend money on gifts or win free swag.

6. Competitive pricing is key

Amazon.com is well known for having competitive pricing but really you aren’t just competing with Jeff Bezos alone in this category. Most smart online shoppers know to compare pricing on multiple websites when looking for a specific product or part online. So you really need to make sure that you are offering a good deal to each customer to continue making sales.

7. Top-notch customer service
It is mandatory to offer top-notch customer service to stay afloat and remain competitive. This means you should have easy shipping, returns and payments. It’s also important to make sure your customers and clients can get in contact with your business for questions and concerns and get a response within a reasonable timeline. Consider having a contact us page link or phone number in your header and footer where users are likely to look first for this information. Lastly, it is also smart to provide a list of frequently asked questions for your clients on your website somewhere so customers can look here first before contacting you.

8. Add customer reviews to your site
One of the many great things about Amazon is the reviews they allow on each and every product on the site. A lot of users read at least three to four reviews before deciding on purchasing a product or brand and this is especially true if they are planning to invest a good amount of money on the product. If there are no reviews on a particular item, it’s common for people to look at other websites to find reviews on those products. This may not be good news for you since the user may end up checking out of the other website in the end just for sheer convenience.

9. Email marketing is a must
One way you can stay ahead of your competition online is by creating a well-planned email strategy for your brand. Consider creating emails for weekly new products, deals and any new or interesting information regarding your company. It's also smart as an eCommerce store to implement a series of triggered emails based on the user's activity on the website. For example, a strategy many brands implement is a series of abandoned cart emails which will get automatically sent to the subscriber's inbox based on them adding products to their cart and not following through with the sale. These set of emails are usually timed out based on the number of hours or days it has been since they added the items to their cart.
  • Tip: There is a very fine line between informing customers and annoying customers with emails. Two to three emails per week is a good general rule of thumb.
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By: Jane Londeree

Senior Web Designer