Can a Small Business Owner Compete with Amazon?

small business ownerCan small business owners successfully compete with Amazon? Or are we destined to allow this mammoth giant to swallow our clients as it continues to gobble up market share? I know this threat is serious to many entrepreneurs and small business owners.

What if you, the small business owner, could create a business that cannot be compared to Amazon?  I believe you can.  There are three reasons that people buy from Amazon.  (1) Incredibly low prices. (2) Huge selection. (3) Shipping convenience.  Does the Amazon profile represent your business brand?  Do you market being the low-price leader with a ginormous selection?  I doubt it.

The solution for differentiating the value offered from small businesses with the value offered by Amazon is threefold.  Amazon will probably remain the quickest and the cheapest, but savvy buyers in your local area can be enticed with other attributes.  I suggest three strategies to make your business stand-out.

Offer a personalized consumer experience.

Small businesses must acknowledge that great customer experiences are becoming more important than ever, so take advantage of this. Offering personalized shopping experiences allows you to develop a stronger relationship with your customers.  Amazon does not provide personalized one-on-one service to human beings like you can.

Build a tribe of ambassadors.

The warm-hug experience of great customer service leads to building a strong group of ambassadors who will provide great word-of-mouth recommendations.  Building a tribe isn’t easy, but it is doable, especially with the internet.  With social media you can reinforce your brand as you create a personal, close-connected interaction with these followers.

This is an interesting statistic from Superoffice.com.  If your customers know you care about them, then 68% will remain loyal.

Understand strategy trade-offs.

Here is my last point about competing with Amazon.  According to Michael Porter, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”  To him, strategy is all about trade-offs.  You can’t be everything to everyone.  Choose where you excel and stick with it.  Don’t confuse your customers by attempting to branch into too many areas—it will confuse your customers and undermine your brand.

There will always be a market share percentage for the value that small businesses bring to the table.  I believe most people like to know you, the business owner, care about them.  Maybe you don’t find Amazon to be your major competitor, but you find another online giant in your industry zapping some of your mojo.  These online giants can’t compete with honest, consistent, personally-delivered customer service the way you do.  Keeping an ongoing conversation with your loyal customers will keep you focused on their needs, even if they change and evolve over time.  Let you customers know who you are and that you are real.  Nothing beats the real thing.

Join the Strategic Thinking Summit Elites

We have a real conversation going over on Facebook.  Members of the Strategic Thinking Summit contribute wise advice based on a wide variety of questions.   I’d love to have you join our Facebook Group—simply click Strategic Thinking Summit.  It’s a small but powerful group comprised of small business owners and entrepreneurs just like you.  Drop by and say, “Hello.”

Download Can a Small Business Owner Compete with Amazon? as a pdf.

Dr. Ann Gatty is a partner at Drs. Gatty, LLC, a business consulting firm, helping businesses add value-assets to their businesses. For the past twenty years she and her husband, Gene, have been providing business leadership mentoring and solving HR employment issues. Ann has recently created The Business Sphere of Excellence® a strategic business planning model used to construct annual and long range business plans helping businesses run more efficiently and profitably. Dr. Gatty is an expert in understanding and improving the workplace culture which is foundational for implementing any successful strategic initiatives. In order to better explain the importance of employee engagement, Ann partners with Beretta, her Great Dane therapy dog to present her key findings. For more information about leadership mentoring or building a business to work brilliantly, visit www.strategicpeoplesolutions.com.
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