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Competing with Amazon: 4 Quick Wins for Small eCommerce Brands

competing with amazon - referralcandy ecommerce guide

Competing with Amazon? Yes, it’s possible, even for smaller eCommerce brands. 

This is the third in our three-part feature on Amazon vs eCommerce retailers. Elise Dopson takes a look at quick wins for smaller brands to compete – and thrive – even against Amazon.

Competing with Amazon: 4 Quick Wins for Small eCommerce Brands

When it comes to business, competitors are everywhere. The brick and mortar stores in your local shopping center might be the ones you’re fighting with for new customers, but there’s one huge competitor that might be tougher to crack: Amazon.

But if you’ve dusted off your boxing gloves and are ready to win the war against this eCommerce giant, congratulations! Recognizing their power—and creating a plan of action to beat them—means you’re halfway there.

As promised in the first half to this guide, here are four more ways you can beat the eCommerce giant in the race to acquire new customers:

1. Offer Rewards for Customer Loyalty

Amazon’s Prime scheme does a fantastic job at building customer loyalty.

Their monthly membership offers free shipping, movie streaming and discounts on Kindle books to encourage their 100+ million members to head to the Amazon website to make any online purchase.

Here’s the question you’ll need to ask yourself: Can you beat them?

Creating a customer loyalty program that’s on-par with Amazon Prime will stand you in great chance of winning their customers.

You could:

  • Create a point-based system. Collect 5 points for every $1 spent, with each point earning 5 cents in store value.
  • Offer cash incentives: Spend $50 and get a $5 off your next purchase.
  • Collaborate with another brand to offer bigger and better rewards. A bedding company could partner with a hotel to give discounted stays to people who’ve made a purchase.

Walmart use partnerships to encourage customer loyalty by collaborating with MasterCard to offer discounts based on how much they’ve spent in-store:

competing with amazon - walmart loyalty program

Source: Walmart

As many as 53.2% of adults will use digital coupons this year—an increase of 3.3% from 2017.

Why not cash-in on this trend and create a loyalty program that could convince potential Amazon customers to opt for your small business instead?

2. Create a Referral Marketing Program

Is your customer loyalty program in full swing? You’ve made a great start on your journey to conquer Amazon, but there’s still a way to go.

Referral marketing programs are another tactic you should be using.

Why? Because they turn your loyal customers into brand evangelists. By giving your most loyal customers an incentive to recommend your website to their family and friends, you’re in with the chance of reaching an entirely new pool of people.

Popular referral marketing incentives include:

  • Providing a $10 gift card for each person they refer
  • Giving away free products when previous customers refer a friend
  • Offering upgrades to better rewards once they refer a set number of people

Virgin Media use this strategy to acquire new customers. Just take a look at the incentives listed on their “refer a friend” page:competing with amazon - virgin referral program

Source: Virgin Media

But why does this work so well when you’re competing with Amazon?

Here’s your answer: 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.

If you’ve got 10 brand evangelists who’re being rewarded for their recommendations, there’s no limit to the number of customers you could take from Amazon.

(Editor: You may wish to peek at our list of 74 examples of successful brands using referral programs!)

3. Prove You’re Credible With Customer Reviews

9 out of 10 Amazon shoppers wouldn’t buy an item with less than three stars. That proves credibility is up there with their list of top priorities—and means you could sneak in to convince the customer you’re more worthy of their cash.

On your small business’ website, you’ll need to get reviews from previous customers.

Pride of place on your homepage is often the best way to do this, as shown in this example on the ReferralCandy homepage:

competing with amazon - referralcandy word of mouth social proof

Source: ReferralCandy

But why not take this credibility-proving tactic a step further by collecting customer reviews on other places that a potential customer would look at pre-purchase? Those include:

  • Local directories
  • Social media
  • Google My Business listing

John Lewis, a department chain with stores all over the UK, uses this principle to prove their credibility through reviews on their Google My Business listing:

competing with amazon - john lewis google my business

Source: Google My Business

Offering an incentive for previous customers to leave reviews here (such as cash bonuses or free products) might need some thought, but there are other cost-effective ways you can prove your credibility—like working with influencers.

One in three consumers trust an influencer’s words over what a brand says.

If you’re able to marry the two, it’s a fantastic way to prove your business should be trusted with a customer’s hard-earned cash, over Amazon.

(Editor: Reviews are a powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing, which we wrote a guide about)

4. Focus on Creating Quality Content for Your Audience

People need to know you’re equally as trustworthy as Amazon before they switch to your company for their needs. As Derrick Neufeld and Mahdi Roghanizad explain, “When trust is high, people are much more likely to take risks and engage in trade.”

…But what exactly does that mean?

Well, you’ll need to build trust in your audience if you’re to be in with any chance of competing with Amazon as a small business.

The easiest way to do this is to focus on creating quality content that reaches your potential customer at the awareness stage of the buying funnel, such as:

  • How to’s
  • Tutorials
  • Listicles
  • Infographics

If you can use this high-quality content to drive potential customers to your website at this stage, and win them over with your knowledge, it builds trust.

Think about it: If you’re purchasing a gift for Mother’s Day, are you more likely to trust a company with a 10-minute long video  that shows you how to buy the perfect gift, or one that leaves you to make your own decision?

Just take a look at the eBook being offered by Crosby’s—targeting people who’re interested in buying a barbecue:

competing with amazon - crosbys ebook

Source: Crosby’s

I’ll bet you’re more likely to trust this brand (and purchase your barbecue from the specialists) rather than Amazon the generalist, right?

Final Thoughts on Competing with Amazon

Are you convinced that the war on Amazon is one that small businesses can beat?

Although it might feel impossible to compete with Amazon’s cheap shipping costs and Prime membership perks, these techniques are just four quick wins you can use to convince potential Amazon customers that you’re more worthy of their cash.

Put these into place and see the results for yourself. But personally, I can’t wait to see your small business crop up in my own buying process before Amazon!

ReferralCandy Guide: How to Compete with Amazon:

Part 1 – How to Compete with Amazon: Why Small/Medium Retailers Should be Afraid of Amazon—and What’s Coming for Them

Part 2 – How to Beat Amazon: Amazon’s vulnerabilities and how Small Businesses Can Beat Amazon

Part 3 – Competing with Amazon: 4 Quick Wins for Small eCommerce Brands(you are here)

Elise Dopson

Elise Dopson is a freelance B2B content writer for SaaS and eCommerce companies. Hailing from the rainy city of Manchester, you'll find her with a good ol' British cuppa tea.