Updated: May 14, 2021
By Lucy Reed
Think that small businesses don’t stand a chance against Amazon? While this giant in the business world may dominate sales, there’s definitely room for smaller businesses to survive. With the right steps and processes, including the ones below, you can keep your small business competitive with Amazon and other major retailers.
If you want to compete with Amazon, you have to stay in control of every process that impacts your customers, including your warehouse. This means staffing those areas with the right people who can keep up with the pace when that pace gets hectic. Temporary staff can be a blessing during these times, and hiring these workers can allow you to take the time you need to find the best permanent employees for your warehouse positions. Plus, since these temporary employees are partially managed by staffing agencies who can help you find and vet affordable warehouse labor, you won’t have to worry about as many on-boarding stresses, such as processing paychecks for temps.
Of course, savvy small business owners also recognize the value of filling customer-facing positions, like customer service reps, with confident, competent people, so develop strong practices for filling these openings as well. After all, if you can develop a personal touch to your customer service, you will have one way of setting your business apart from competitors.
When customers buy from Amazon, they’ve come to expect their items to include free shipping, and Amazon has free shipping tools, like offering Prime memberships, that keep all that pricey packaging and shipping from hurting the company’s bottom line. For small businesses, offering free shipping isn’t always affordable, and attempting to match Amazon’s typical two-day shipping timeline can be nearly impossible. You can use some shipping hacks to compete with the free shipping that keeps so many customers coming back to retail giants like Amazon. However, doing so means being strategic around your packaging, shipping tech, and vendors you use to satisfy orders. To offer free shipping, businesses also need to find shipping savings, such as reduced packaging, to avoid passing rising shipping costs on to customers.
Another thing that drives the continued success of Amazon, and other retail giants like Coca-Cola, is brand recognition. The ability of these companies to intertwine themselves, and their products, into the lifestyles and identities of customers is extraordinary, which has resulted in massive profits and success. If you want to create this same kind of magic for your business, you have to be willing to create a narrative and identity traits so that customers feel a connection to your values, products, and, ultimately, your company. Once you’ve come up with your branding strategies, you can put them to work by using social media to connect with potential customers and begin building recognition and loyalty for your small business.
You may be scratching your head over this one, but if you want to compete with Amazon, your best bet may be to join the competition. That’s because, unlike previous decades, the relationship between Amazon and businesses has gradually evolved to the point that small businesses can actually profit from offering their products via Amazon. So, as long as you do not have any qualms with Amazon, you could use the retailer’s fully developed marketing and shipping processes to funnel more customers to your own business. This can provide an especially helpful boost to newer small businesses that are still trying to connect with their first customers and net those first sales. If you are contemplating this route, it’s also important to be aware of potential Amazon issues, such as impediments for new sellers and what tends to be intense competition from other sellers, so you can decide if this is the right move.