Being a small retailer is hard enough. Retailing in the Age of Amazon means figuring out what your customers want to buy even before they know it. This can be overwhelming. Guess wrong and you need to mark down your product giving up profit you need to pay expenses and yourself, guess right and you are on top of the hottest trend and making top margins. In our over 15 years of consulting with Retailers, we are well aware of the impact that Marketplaces like Amazon and Ebay have had on our small brick and mortar retailers. However, with the right strategies, you can make sure you stand out in the crowded marketplace.
Our first tip for retailing in the age of Amazon:
Go deep… What we mean by that is to master the category you are in. We have a pet retailer who successfully competes by having greater product knowledge in the area of healthy foods for dogs and cats than Amazon can ever hope to gain through. I am amazed at the number of pets who are starting to have food allergies. Our client has you covered. If your dog is allergic to wheat, the sales associates know exactly what foods to recommend. They use their Point of Sale System to track the customer’s purchase and can quickly answer the question “What did I buy last time?” that in addition to liberal return policy has earned their customer’s loyalty. In conjunction with our tip to go deep, they have a large selection of raw foods and specialty supplements and the knowledge to make sure they meet their customer needs. So, by going deep, then are able to compete successful with the big box pet retailers as well as Amazon.
The second tip for retailing in the age of Amazon:
Create an experience. The Amazon experience is convenience. However, humans are social and in general like gathering together with others. This is especially true for the younger generations, who in general crave experiences even more than acquiring things. We have a women’s boutique who excels in this. They hold designer trunk shows several times a year inviting customers who have purchased similar products in the past. They serve beverages and lite snacks creating a day/night for their customer. In addition, they curate outfits for their better customers based on past purchases. Once they get new product in, they use the knowledge of the customer to create a collection and market that collection to the customer. Lastly, they will have a wardrobe stylist work with any customer looking for help including working with items the customer brings in.
The Third tip for retailing in the age of Amazon:
Know Amazon’s guidelines. Knowing the website your selling on will greatly benefit the success you have with the sale of your products. For example, there are only two types of photo’s of your product allowed on the site. The Hero Image is a simple photo of your product, shot on a plain white background, whereas the lifestyle image is a photo of your product being used. Many retailers on Amazon choose to invest in professional photography for Amazon products to avoid being persecuted by Amazon regulations and make their product stand out from the rest.
Last Tip for retailing in the age of Amazon:
If you can’t beat them, join them. Technology has made feasible for the small retailer to be on a number of the marketplaces so why not branch out? You will need to spend time setting it your account up, checking the inventory of your products, maybe even getting an amazon product photography service to make your service look more professional, but it’ll all be worth it because it shows off your business to so many new people. My tip here relates to making sure your technology supports your sales. There is nothing worst than selling something on Amazon and not being able to fulfill the order. In fact, Amazon will remove you as a seller if you fail to fulfill orders properly. Your Point of Sale system needs to help you fulfill this mission Additionally, bonus points if you can make the customer online experience an extension of their in store experience. Create a site that mirrors your store, allow customers to shop on-line and pick up in store. In order to not create a nightmare of having multiple systems, make sure that your technology supports the various channels you sell through. There are several pieces of software that connect your web-site, the marketplaces and the QuickBooks products all together. Contact us for more information.