Compete with Amazon by Not Competing with Amazon

Mike Grimes
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In a recent Retail Dive article entitled, “4 ways to compete with Amazon as a small business”, Daphne Carmeli, CEO of Deliv, claims that retailers are better off touting their consumer experiences than trying to compete directly with the retail juggernaut. Naturally, most retailers know they can’t compete with Amazon’s massive infrastructure or endless shelf, since they have to actually, you know, focus on making a profit. But it is a key point that small and mid-size retailers don’t need to compete by offering profit-damaging services like free two-day shipping anywhere in the nation. They can compete on experience, which is what the masses are increasingly demanding in all aspects of their consumer lives.

Competing with Amazon’s infrastructure is a fool’s errand

Only Walmart, the primary bulwark against Amazon’s domination of the retail landscape, has the capital to leverage in an effort to compete with Amazon’s infrastructure. Their acquisitions of Jet.com and brands like Moosejaw to provide an endless shelf (with products people actually want) prove their dedication to competing on assortment and ecommerce/omni-channel sales.

But even Walmart knows it can’t beat Amazon at its own game. That’s why Walmart has taken other major steps to find competitive areas. Namely, they’ve identified personalization as an area in which they can beat Amazon. Although Walmart still lacks in product breadth compared to Amazon, they can leverage their greater depth of customer base purchase history data to develop more personalized experiences.

Now, Walmart obviously has intel on more in-store shopping behavior than nearly anyone else based on sheer footprint and customer base. But the lesson they’re proving to be true is that customer intelligence and personalized experiences have the potential to keep up with, and potentially take over, Amazon’s brute force.

Doing battle on your own terms

Similarly, small and medium-sized retailers have the potential to provide highly customized and unique experiences for their consumers. And this doesn’t just mean finding a niche no one else is filling. It means providing a service to each customer as if they were the only one a retailer serves. It means identifying their needs and anticipating their expectations by analyzing their path to purchase and consumption histories. It means providing personalized loyalty programs that treat each consumer as an individual and streamlines the commerce experience across channels.

Retailers can do this by deploying technology across their organization that leverages the combined power of their infrastructure, from the point of sale to CRM to loyalty programs. Retailers don’t need to offer billions of products if they know which customers buy which products, how much cost matters to them, and how often they come back for more.

The development of unique shopper profiles and delivery of relevant messages and offers to each customer will create a rewarding shopping experience for consumers. Of course, if a customer needs free two-day shipping , they may still go to Amazon. If they need an obscure product, that’s OK, because you can only compete in your own area of expertise. Those are areas of competition you can’t expect to compete on, the infrastructure requirements are simply too demanding and financially stressful. But you can invest in providing a unique experience to each shopper, proving your value to them over time, and becoming the retailer they like to shop with, not the one they have to. 

As Amazon and Walmart go to battle at the upper echelons of the industry and throw massive sums of money into the fight, savvy retailers will push forward on providing the convenience of a tailored experience. Personalization is a cost-effective and highly valuable strategy that will start leveling the playing field for any retailer that fully leverages this asset — which includes making sure your shoppers are aware of it. I’m willing to bet on it.

Contact me today to find out how we can help your retail business provide your customers with a a more personalised in-store experience. 



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