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5 Ways to Stay Competitive in the Amazon Era

Global Market Expansion

In the time it is taking you to read this sentence, approximately 100 products were just sold on Amazon – and that’s with a conservative calculation of 35 orders coming into the e-commerce behemoth every second.

Not bad for a brand that started as a bookseller out of a guy’s garage. But it could be bad for you—if your brand is missing out on opportunities due to the massive hold Amazon has on today’s consumers.

While it may seem daunting, there are ways even the smallest of startups can hold their own in the David vs. Goliath battle currently playing out on the internet, across the supply chain and, ultimately, at consumers’ doorsteps.

Based on our experience helping household brand names and emerging players alike take on Amazon, there are five priorities brands should have when trying to remain competitive:

1. Put Customer Experience First

Did you know that Amazon’s logo depicts a smile that goes from A to Z, meant to signify that the company is willing to deliver everything to everyone, anywhere in the world? Everything Amazon does – down to the subtleties of its logo – show a relentless focus on ensuring the customer has a positive experience.

To keep up, brands must think about each and every step of how their customers will interact with their brand – from the shopping experience in their online store or the call to a customer service rep, to the packaging, when it delivers and the ease of a return. If it’s not positive and seamless, it will create an experience that leaves a negative impression.

2. Consider the Cohesive Supply Chain

There are often two sides to the customer equation: 1) what happens before a purchase (think: email marketing, web store usability, etc.), and then 2) what happens after a transaction (think: fulfillment, shipping, etc.). To the consumer, however, they are all part of a single experience with your brand. As more goods bypass retailers and flow directly to consumers, it will be more important than ever that brands have a flawless supply chain – one that wows your customers from their first click on your website to their shipped order arriving at their doorstep, and beyond.

The integration of the digital and physical supply chain is particularly important for electronics brands, as the supply chain extends long after a product is in a consumer’s hands. The rise of IoT and smart devices, for example, mean that brands must be smart about how software and other premium services are paid for and delivered.

3. Think Like Amazon

As the old adage goes, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” If you’re a brand that counts Amazon among your frenemies, pay close attention to what they do – and what they may do in the future. From introducing drones to deliver packages faster and offering the Dash button to ensure instant re-order to rolling out the IoT-enabled Alexa, Amazon is not afraid to break out of traditional boundaries and innovate in unexpected ways. Brands competing with them need to take similar, innovative risks.

4. Find Additional Means to Capture—and Analyze—Customer Data

Even if you do count it as competition, odds are that Amazon is also a sales channel for you. However, as you may have learned the hard way, the company doesn’t share a lot of data on the customers who buy your goods. Without knowing who is buying your goods, it becomes very difficult to not only understand those customers but also market to them in the future.

While you can certainly still sell through other channels and leverage that data, Amazon is too rich a customer data goldmine to ignore. There are ways to work around this to capture customer information, especially for connected devices. We see an increase in hardware devices that connect to smartphone apps to aid warranty registration, firmware updates and also purchasing of consumables. This is a great way to connect with the consumer regardless of the channel. Ultimately, this allows you to make smarter, data-driven decisions around cross-sell and up-sell campaigns that have tangible improvements on the bottom line.

5. Tap a knowledgeable partner

When you’re going up against a behemoth like Amazon, you can’t go it alone. You need a knowledgeable supply chain partner like ModusLink who has both the e-commerce solutions and logistics prowess (not to mention proven experience) to match Amazon’s highly efficient, well managed, and forward-thinking processes at each step along the way.

You may not go head-to-head with Amazon anytime soon, but you do now have an initial plan for making a dent in the 6,000+ additional Amazon sales made since you started reading this post.

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