5 Tips on How to Compete With Amazon (And Actually Win)

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To say that Amazon is a hit with consumers would be an understatement. And every major retailer wants to know how to compete with Amazon or at least steal a page from their playbook.

We know Amazon is top dog. In fact, a PowerReviews survey found each month, more U.S. consumers visit Amazon than their families and 30% visit more than seven times a month to research, browse or buy.

With numbers like that, you may be wondering, do other businesses even stand a chance?

Our answer? Absolutely.

Amazon may be the most dominant force in retail today, but with the right strategies, competing with the retail giant is entirely doable.

Read on for our five tips on how to compete with Amazon in 2019 and win:

1. Double Down on What Makes You Better Than Everyone Else

The first step to learn how to compete with Amazon is by figuring out what you can do better. As Cara Wood, digital marketing manager at ShopPad puts it, “Amazon does everything, but they don’t do everything well.”

Wood recommends finding one thing that you can do better than Amazon then making sure your business can own that space. Being cookie cutter isn’t going to put you above the rest, but better design and product descriptions could.

For example, Wolf & Shepherd (W&S) makes “ridiculously comfortable” dress shoes and focuses on a product built for active and stylish consumers. W&S’s website does a great job of communicating that to customers.

Its product pages, have a section called “See What’s Different.” This lets customers see the various components that make its products so comfortable.

W&S Product Example

The brand’s dedication to product quality and innovation has earned it numerous fans and customers who love the company’s shoes and are willing to pay more. A pair of W&S shoes can be 3 to 10 times more expensive than most dress shoes on Amazon, but the company continues to attract new shoppers.

If you haven’t already, you need to find the elements that make your business better than Amazon and other competitors. Even more so, you have to clearly communicate it to your customers.

Brands that fail to do this find themselves struggling to gain a foot up on brands selling through Amazon.

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2. Don’t Just Stock Products–Curate Them

For the majority of retailers, you’ll never be able to compete with the size and depth of Amazon’s inventory. But one thing you can do is curate better product assortments that appeal specifically to your target market. This helps position you as the go-to retailer in your category.

How exactly do you accomplish that?

Bruce Clark, an associate professor at Northeastern University says it’s all about conveying “a distinct viewpoint about what your customers will enjoy.” As an example, Clark points to retailers that developed strong
and successful private label brands.

trader joes facebook cookie butter fan page

Trader Joe’s consistently stocks unique and trendy items that people love. Consider products like Cookie Butter, Cauliflower Pizza Crust and Truffle Honey Mustard. These items don’t just drive sales, they’ve gained a lot of loyal followers. Cookie Butter even has its own Facebook Page with more than 14,000 likes.

Of course, developing a private label strategy isn’t for everyone. And if you’re not selling your own branded products, it’s still a good idea to curate and showcase your products in unique ways. You get to pick the story your business tells, so make it unique.

Another great example comes from the apparel retailer and subscription service Le Tote. Its website has a section called Collections, which consists of product groups curated for a specific theme or purpose like business casual, business professional and flirty, fun and feminine.

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With this approach, the shopping experience at LeTote isn’t just bound by product categories. Customers shop based on their needs, tastes and preferences.

3. Have a Distinguished Personality

Amazon is a lot of things: it’s fast, convenient and reliable. But as great as those attributes may be, not a lot of consumers would label Amazon as “fun” or “oozing with personality.”

This is where retailers gain a competitive advantage.

When you develop a personality that consumers deem special, you outshine competitors and connect with shoppers in ways others can’t.

For example, Dollar Shave Club primarily sells razors, which was already a completely competitive space. And while anyone can sell and ship razors for a few bucks, Dollar Shave Club sets itself apart by marketing its products in funny and radically distinctive ways.

The company showed its personality by poking fun of the traditional razor-buying process. After the video went viral, Dollar Shave Club quickly gained the image as the best alternative to traditional razor shopping.

Their fun personality translates into all its branded materials, including its website, blog and packaging. The company’s success can be tied back to being distinctive with its voice and purpose.

Even if you’re selling items that are easily available on Amazon, your personality could connect to audiences more effectively.

4. Listen to Your Consumers Through Ratings & Reviews

One of the biggest problems with Amazon is its massive amount of fake or unauthentic reviews. In fact, a Fakespot study found inauthentic reviews dominate product categories such as:

  • Electronics: 61%
  • Beauty: 63%
  • Footwear: 59%
  • Supplements: 64%

What’s even more upsetting is a Washington Post report found the vast majority of reviews for popular categories such as Bluetooth headphones and speakers violate Amazon’s terms on paid reviews.

The dominance of fake reviews is a serious problem and this trend is distrust is why so many shoppers have skepticism before checking out. If you’re running an ecommerce site, you have even more responsibility to prevent fake or bogus reviews.

By implementing a Ratings and Reviews platform that moderates and prevents fake or unhelpful content, you give shoppers peace of mind when checking out.

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In fact, PowerReviews is the only reviews provider that uses human moderation, which means our team of content reviewers will make sure every one of your product reviews has been verified and approved.

Customer Voices Build Trust

Our goal is to use fraud detection technologies and human moderation to maintain the authenticity of shopper reviews so your customers know the content is real.


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Well research from the previously mentioned PowerReviews report found 36% of shoppers believe seeing product reviews from verified buyers is “very important.” Using badges that indicate whether a comment or review was contributed by a customer, staff member or affiliate partner (reviewers who received product samples) promotes authenticity and trust.

That’s why so many brands are including user-generated content into their product pages. Consumers want to see real photos and videos from consumers to know what they’re buying.

Our data found 63% of shoppers actually seek out user-generated content like photos and videos in product reviews before making a purchase. An example of brand doing this well is Exmark Manufacturing, a leading manufacturer of commercial mowers.

exmark manufacturing verified reviewer example

The company’s product pages not only display ratings and reviews from its customers, but it adds a “Verified Buyer” badge to reviews that the site has authenticated. Exmark also gives users the option to upload their own photos, so shoppers can see other people using Exmark’s mowers.

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Want to see the Visual and Social Suite from PowerReviews in action? Reach out and request a demo so our team can show you the power of user-generated content!

5. Improve the Shopping Experience

When retailers want to know how to compete with Amazon, they often overlook a major detail–experience. The ecommerce giant does a great job at enabling customers to buy what they need and in the most efficient way possible. But the experience of shopping on Amazon isn’t exactly the most enjoyable or interesting aspect of their business.

While Amazon doesn’t have to prioritize their experience to see success, you likely do. Amazon acts like an in and out store, where consumers get exactly what they need and fast. But to compete with Amazon, you need to be fast, but also nimble with your customer experience.

Research from the Fashion Institute of Technology found 57% of U.S. consumers believe stores should do more than sell products.

What does this mean for you?

Three words: better customer experiences.

If you have brick and mortar locations, use your stores to offer experiences that make people’s visits more enjoyable. Sephora, for example, regularly holds in-store classes for those who want to learn the latest makeup trends and techniques.

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Meanwhile, the Bonobos Guide Shop experience includes one-on-one sessions with a a Bonobos Guide who helps shoppers find the right fit. And when a customer shops in the store, Bonobos creates a profile for the shopper to record size information and purchase history.

This makes shopping online much easier because all customers need to do is simply place an order and their products will arrive true to their size and fit.

Fast Shipping Doesn’t Have to Let Amazon Win Every Race

If you’re an online pureplay, there are still plenty of ways to enrich customer ecommerce experiences–even if you can’t offer two- or same-day delivery. To know how to compete with Amazon, you don’t have to be as fast as them–you just need to be willing to run the race.

This is why we recommend personalizing customer shopping journeys as much as possible so people find the products they want faster. Of course the speed of delivery helps in Amazon’s success, but customers are willing to wait an extra day or two to get the product they really want.

Additionally, the cost of instantaneous shipping is truly eating into the profits of Amazon, which is why many believe the company could cut the feature in the future.

Good shipping pricing and speed is important, but again, we believe in the customer journey, so shoppers come back because of the ease in their experience. The lingerie company ThirdLove has a Fit Finder feature to do just that.

This process asks shoppers a series of questions to help find their perfect fit, so there’s less doubt in ordering and to cut down product returns. Once someone completes the quiz, ThirdLove serves up the best bra styles and sizes for them.

The customer avoids going through the trouble of browsing endlessly to find what they like and the size they need. By focusing on the experience and ease of use, brands and retailers can compete and one-up Amazon.

Yes, You Can Compete With Amazon

Trying to battle with Amazon on pricing or inventory depth can feel like a fool’s errand because so few retailers have the technology and supply chain to match. But the best ways to take on the giant—and win—is to invest in the things that make you different, unique, trustworthy and a pleasure to use.

Hopefully these five tips give you a better idea (and a little more confidence) to take on ecommerce giants in today’s fast-paced market. Good luck!

Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B content for companies in the retail, technology and SMB space.