Future of Commerce Blog

How Retailers Can Compete – or Coexist – With Amazon


With more than 300 million active customer accounts, Amazon’s success is both the opportunity and the envy of every retailer. Amazon has allowed retailers of all sizes to grow quickly and earn traction on a trusted platform. And with its massive success, there truly is no competing with Amazon. Instead, it’s finding ways to coexist with Amazon. And for different retailers, that means different things.

Do What Amazon Does Well

There’s more than one reason Amazon’s net sales are in the tens of billions. Amazon delivers many conveniences and perks that other online and brick-and-mortar retailers don’t always offer. New technologies and tools are making it easier for retailers of all sizes to offer these same benefits to shoppers:

Prime Shipping Perks

Amazon Prime has a few main draws, the star of which being free two-day shipping. 82 percent of Prime members would cancel their subscription without this specific perk. Plus, Amazon is expanding the true perks of this offering with free same-day delivery in select areas. But, bear in mind that quick shipping isn’t always the top concern for consumers. 88 percent prefer free to fast shipping.

Easy Returns

In many cases, Amazon has pre-printed return labels and free returns for customers. Make the return process as easy as possible for your customers. This also helps alleviate any risk, so reinstate this store policy near the ‘Buy’ button to reassure customers at the point of purchase. If you have any brick-and-mortar locations, offer the convenience of free in-store returns, too. This is a perk that 70 percent of holiday gift recipients prefer.


Even for those who aren’t Prime members, Amazon is 11 percent cheaper than other major ecommerce players, like Walmart, Target and Jet. If you’re able to compete on price point and still turn a profit, do it. Then get your products on comparison shopping sites to compete on price.

Research Resources

A few things you can always count on Amazon for, even if you’re not going to make a purchase on their site: customer reviews, Q&A, detailed product specs and similar product recommendations. Reviews are extremely important — 92 percent of consumers trust product recommendations from real people.

Do What Amazon Can’t

There’s no arguing that Amazon does what it does well, but there are tons of things you can’t do with Amazon. And at the core of most of these differentiators is crafting an entire brand experience and building relationships with customers. This is a huge opportunity, especially considering approximately two-thirds of consumers place great importance in brand trust.

Nurture Existing Customers

While building new relationships is important, customer retention is equally, if not more, important. Customer acquisition costs five times more, and new customers are only 5–20 percent likely to make a purchase, compared to 60–70 percent for existing customers. Selling outside of Amazon, you can capture customer data you need to continue to communicate with them. Remember that relationships go two ways, and not to exploit your promotions too much.

Establish a Customer Loyalty Program

According to the 2016 Bond Loyalty Report, almost three-quarters of loyalty program members are more likely to recommend your brand if it has a good program. A good program should include great perks, personalization and minimal friction. With Amazon, there is no way to establish a loyalty program. Apparel brand Chubbies used the Stitch Labs API to establish their loyalty program that helped them grow repeat revenue by 70 percent.

In-Store Services

Although Amazon has recently ventured into the brick-and-mortar space with its holiday pop-up shops at Whole Foods, it has yet to truly compete with omnichannel retailers. If you sell online and in-store, consider offering the convenience of in-store pickup and returns. 58 percent of 2017 holiday shoppers planned to take advantage of in-store pickup for online purchases. Explore other in-store perks that Amazon can’t match, such as personal stylists on hand, in-store events or product demos.

Integrate Amazon Into Your Omnichannel Strategy

There’s no competing with Amazon — if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. The key here is to understand what you can do within Amazon and what you can do outside of it, and how those can complement one another.

Take apparel brand Young & Reckless for example. The retailer sells on both Amazon and their own online store — but the target customer and product lines are different. They build awareness by wholesaling through Amazon, and capture direct-to-consumer sales on their Shopify Plus ecommerce store. Read the case study about how Young & Reckless synced inventory across Amazon and other channels.

And you don’t have to go wholesale to integrate Amazon into your omnichannel strategy. Most shoppers don’t want to purchase anything priced above $200 from Amazon. Use it to introduce consumers to your brand through lower-priced items. Sell your higher-priced items exclusively on your store, so when customers seek out your brand outside of Amazon, they’re already pretty ready to buy.

Amazon is also a good option as a product testing ground. If you have a new product idea and want to test it without tarnishing your brand, sell it on Amazon first. You’ll get honest feedback and have a chance to test pricing (bearing in mind that the Amazon shopper is different than the shopper on your site or in your store).

Interested in learning how to expand your business and grow with omnichannel selling? Download our ebook about how to drive demand and sales with omnichannel growth strategies.

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