While many etailers view themselves as in competition with Amazon, it's more effective to use Amazon's success as an example and learn from it. We did that when we looked at three strategies to borrow from Amazon. Now, here are four strategies that you can use to optimize your differences to Amazon to provide your customers with an unbeatable shopping experience.
Amazon has a huge product assortment, one that's difficult even for the largest corporate retailers to compete with. Instead of trying to compete by offering consumers a product assortment that will overwhelm them (and your team) go in the opposite direction and embrace the art of curation. Offer consumers the benefit of your years of experience and wisdom by presenting them with a smaller selection of high quality options. It’s been well documented that shoppers actually purchase more when they have fewer options to choose from, as seen in this famous jam study completed by Sheena Lyengar: over the course of multiple Sunday afternoons in a high end grocery store, shoppers were offered two alternating sampling stations. One station had 24 flavors of jam and the other offered six options; the station that had 24 flavors only converted 3% of the samplers, while the station with six options converted a whopping 30%. Those numbers leave little room for debate: sometimes, less really is more.
2) Site Design
A beautiful and unique website can be the difference between "basic” and "basically my favorite online shop ever." Make sure your site's design reflects your predetermined brand story. A new customer should be able to describe the personality of your store simply by viewing the homepage. Creating a site with personality will help your customers feel more personally connected to your brand, and it will be easier to attract customers if they actually want to visit your site regularly. Plus good taste in website design subconsciously communicates plain old good taste, another way to build trust with your audience.
3) Diverse Product Images
High quality product images are key to conversion, and retailers should strive to include as many diverse images as possible. Solely including flat product shots doesn’t offer consumers the necessary replacement for tactile benefits of shopping in store. Not only do 67% of consumers report that an image is “very important” when choosing a product, but more than 50% of consumers think product images are the most important factor, beating out all other product information like descriptions, ratings, or reviews. That offers a huge advantage to retailers who offer multiple high quality diverse product images for every product.
4) Customer Service
Offer the personal touch of high quality customer service that a mega-retailer just can’t achieve, solely due to size. Treat every customer like a friend or family member in order to build a loyal customer base. Invest time in including personal touches, like handwritten thank you cards or free samples that aren’t offered by more corporate competitors. Make it easy for your customers to get in touch with you, to build the trust necessary to make them feel comfortable forking over their hard earned cash. These small details may seem like more effort than they’re worth, it will be a defining factor in turning new customers into loyal customers.
The Take Away
Independent retailers have inherent advantages coming from a smaller, leaner, more flexible company. To be able to be successful in such a competitive industry, they need to make the most of those points of differentiation!