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Ultra-personalized buying experiences are the future of ecommerce—and one thing Amazon fails to provide.
Building your online presence on a single source ecommerce solution is your biggest asset to maximize loyalty and lifetime value in an increasingly competitive economy.
But just how can you “beat” Amazon in the ecommerce space, and is this even the right approach to take? Read on for 10 things your online store can do that Amazon can’t.
1) Streamline B2B and B2C
B2B and B2C websites have traditionally stayed in their own lanes. Amazon, which first found success in the B2C market, now offers a separate marketplace for B2B retailers.
In light of tradition, keeping the two separate makes sense. As the industry progresses, however, so do the old ways of doing business.
Where it once made sense to separate B2B and B2C channels, several large-scale enterprises hold a presence in both. Merging your sites on one robust platform offers a slew of advantages: from time savings, to saving money. Most importantly, it’ll empower your company to deliver one streamlined omnichannel experience—all from an intelligent back-end that’s easier to maintain.
2) Provide Thoughtful Recommendations
Amazon set a precedent for product recommendation technology, tailoring content to shopper history. Unlike an engine unique to your inventory, however, you have no control over Amazon’s recommendations.
This means that the marketplace e-giant, which operates in favor of popular or low-priced products, could showcase competitor products with yours. It’s also been known to serve up products which shoppers have already purchased and likely won’t purchase again.
74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized. -Accenture
Sophisticated ecommerce technology allows you to regain control over product merchandising. With Miva, for instance, you can assign related products via the admin to ensure recommendations are fitting for your customer—and your brand.
3) Build a Memorable Brand Experience
In a marketplace where low costs talk, the temptation to enter price wars runs high. But competing on price alone is no viable long-term business model, warns President and Creative Director of EY Studios, Eric Yonge.
“In any industry, there can only be one low-cost leader; somebody can always underbid you. Everybody else has got to pay attention to their brand.” -Eric Yonge, EY Studios
A purveyor of several brands, Amazon is less interested in building their brand around deep-seated values; more on providing value.
But today’s millennial generation, estimated by Bazaar to carry more impact than any other, is highly intentional with their spending habits. As 75% of this group is committed to supporting brands which give back to society, standing upon a mission will do more than make you feel good.
Think of all the brands that give back and what they’re known for: companies like Warby Parker and TOMS which follow the buy-one-give-one model, or THRIVE Farmers which supports coffee farmers. These companies are known for their mission, and captivate customers through the unfolding of their brand story on their sites and social media.
Whether your company gives back in a similar way or boosts the community through jobs and an environment of respect, millennials crave to be engaged by companies transparent about who they are and what they believe. A brand story which starts on your site and comes to life across your owned channels promises to captivate, and convert, like Amazon can’t.
4) Provide a Personalized Experience
86% of shoppers are willing to pay a premium for a customized experience.–Infosys
Amazon competes on price, and yet 9 out of 10 shoppers prefer a customized experience: one based less around reactive recommendations; more on listening to the customer first.
Custom ecommerce features like product visualizers, configurators, and kit builders have revolutionized the potential for personalized experiences.
Take NHS Inc., the world’s premier skateboard distributing company. Through their industry-first skateboard builder, skaters are privy to 1,000,000+ possible configurations from 200+ U.S. skateboard brands—all to build a board as unique as its owner.
Building a custom ecommerce feature which accounts for sophisticated logic and rules, along with site speed, is no quick or easy feat. But it’s certainly an investment in the customer and their needs—one which leads to increased sales and customer lifetime value for savvy brands.
5) Win Customers—For Life
Increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits 25% to 95% -Invespcro.
As much as Amazon is considered an “e-giant” among retailers online, it’s important to consider one major differentiator between the two: customer intent. Amazon is a leader for low prices, and so customers will peruse and pick companies based on who’s winning the price war that day.
On Amazon, there is no chance to foster brand loyalty—or even promote repeat purchases. By building a brand presence that’s owned by you and adopted by your customers, you have the chance to earn repeat customers and boost your customer lifetime value.
Acquisition can cost 7x as much as retention, yet only 15% of companies focus on retaining their customers. But the case for increasing customer lifetime value (CLTV) is too promising to ignore.
So how does a business go about growing their CLTV? Like many other points mentioned here, it takes a strategic focus on the customer—and some time. Valuable content, email marketing, and subscriptions are all proven methods for fostering a healthy relationship with the customer that outlast any singular purchase online.
6) Win Through Design
You have 6-10 seconds to make an impression before a user leaves your site. -Kissmetrics
It’s a brutal statistic and a real reflection of today’s consumer. In this time, the user is judging your brand on the speed of your site; navigability; content structure and appeal.
That is, your design.
Amazon’s success centers around their mission statement: a commitment to the customer. As a marketplace to numerous competing companies, promoting the uniqueness of any one brand is not a priority. Providing a quick, streamlined experience for the customer, is.
Given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of users would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain.
Effective design delivers all the information your customers seek, wrapped in the digestible package of your brand story. That is, your company’s greatest competitive advantage.
7) Upsell and Cross-sell
63% of consumers say they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting or relevant. –Rapt Media
Not only will Amazon group your products alongside your competitors’; they even have the ability to suggest a deal by bundling them together. While this cross-sell may provide value to the customer, it stands to divert from your ownable brand—and the potential of profits to follow.
While upselling was once considered a pushy sales tactic, the personalized shopping experience has led the expectation for personalized deals. Like product recommendations on Amazon, upselling and cross-selling seeks to provide value for the user.
Housed on your site, however, you get to control which products are bundled, promoting value and discoverability in one.
8) Curate an Experience
While Amazon opened the door for online shopping, ecommerce continues to flourish on customer-first experiences: something which Amazon, with its one-size-fits-all model, is not set up to provide.
Custom ecommerce features on your site exist to enhance the experience for your end user. Take My Garage, a feature of truck accessories store Xtreme Diesel. This feature allows for a personalized shopping experience, storing vehicle information for multiple trucks to an individual account—enticing users to return and engage.
9) Hold Onto Helpful Data
With Amazon.com accounting for 43 percent of online revenue in 2016, retailers are feeling the pressure to sell through their site. While this has its benefits, retailers are at a disadvantage when it comes to user data—one thing the e-marketplace holds close to the chest.
Data such as demographics and order history provide a valuable picture of your customer. Investing in an ecommerce site of your own stands to unlock a wealth of data: knowledge which will help you better understand, and meet the needs of, your customer.
10) Meet Advanced B2B Needs
Founded in 2015, Amazon Business continues to grow alongside its B2C counterpart. Despite its overall success, it lacks the sophistication required by large B2B businesses to streamline processes and sell efficiently.
Miva’s leading enterprise ecommerce software offers all the advanced features necessary to dream, sell, optimize, and scale your high-volume business. With innovative features like volume pricing, complex customer groups, freight shipping and more, Miva is built to help you effortlessly orchestrate the people, products, and systems which comprise your ecommerce business.
The Bottom Line
Amazon set a precedent for shopping online. The e-marketplace delivers on value for the customer and enables discoverability and referrals for retailers.
Today’s advanced technologies have led to ecommerce flourishing in favor of the retailer. By building your site upon an intuitive, robust ecommerce platform, implementing the right strategies for your brand, and utilizing Amazon as an extension (not the foundation) to your growth, your omnichannel presence will only continue to thrive.
About The Author
Cheryl Elizaga is a Brand Strategist and Copywriter with nearly a decade of experience catalyzing meaningful, measurable action for Fortune 100 companies and industry pioneers alike. A contributing author to the Miva Blog, Cheryl helps ecommerce companies own their brand and harness the tools and technology of the leading Miva platform to drive growth.