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How to Beat Amazon: Amazon’s Weaknesses And Shortcomings

how to beat amazon

You might be wondering: How to beat Amazon? Is it even possible? This is the second part of our three-part feature on Amazon vs eCommerce retailers.

In this part, Elise Dopson looks at Amazon’s weaknesses, and how small business can differentiate themselves – with ideas on how to compete against Amazon!

How To Beat Amazon? Yes, It’s possible – even for small online retailers

Amazon’s war on small businesses isn’t set to die down anytime soon.

In fact, judging by the data we found on Amazon’s power, their predicted eCommerce takeover is likely to put the fear in small online retailers all over the world—no what stage of business they’re in.

Not only are they actively selling over 12 million products (plus a huge selection of books, wine, services and media), but their standalone website is expected to hold 50% of all retail eCommerce global market value share by 2021:

how to beat amazon - amazon projected revenue

Source: Statista

But the game is not over yet.

Although Amazon are gearing up for their biggest year ever, it’s not impossible for small businesses to compete for their customers – we’ll even tell you how to beat Amazon below. But first, here’s why.

3 Reasons Why Competing with Amazon Isn’t a Total Waste of Time

1. Not All Amazon Consumers are Loyal

Granted, Amazon’s Prime loyalty scheme is doing a great job at convincing previous purchasers to head back to their site in the future.

…But it doesn’t work for everyone.

53% of consumers ‘never’ or ‘sometimes’ compare prices on other websites before purchasing on Amazon. Amazon might be their first port of call, but they’ll look elsewhere first.

how to beat amazon - customers not loyalSource: Amazon Consumer Survey

Add to that the 28% of consumers who don’t shop on Amazon, and suddenly you’re looking at a potential 82% of online consumers who could be your customers.

If you’re able to get in there (by using social media, SEO and content marketing) and strike while the iron’s hot, you could steal those customers and convince them to hand their cash over to you.

2. Customers Will Pick Another Retailer If They Offer Free Returns

Did you know that Amazon only offer free returns on their products if the reason for the return is Amazon’s fault? They say:

“If you return an item using a prepaid method (dropoff or pickup) from the Online Returns Center, and the reason for return is not a result of an Amazon error, the cost of return shipping will be deducted from your refund unless your item qualifies for a free return.”

Although that’s bad news for Amazon customers, it’s great news for small businesses—especially considering that over half of consumers will pick another store if they offer free returns:

how to compete with amazon - no free returns

Source: Shippo

Combine that with the 34% of people who will only make a purchase if they’re able to return the item for free, and you’re already at a huge advantage by offering free returns on your own products.

3. Amazon’s Product Descriptions Are Fairly Weak

Although 19.8% of Amazon customers made a purchase as a result of a convincing product description, the bar isn’t set very high.

Just take a look at this one describing a pair of luggage tags:

Our Bride and Groom luggage tags make the perfect gift for the happy couple! SPECIFICS: – 2.5″h x 4.25″ with 9″ strap buckle – Tag is embossed with “Bride” in black and gold diamond & ‘”Groom” in gold.”

how to beat amazon – weak product descriptions

Source: Amazon

…Not very convincing, right?

By using simple copywriting techniques, you can add pizzazz to write product descriptions that sell, and you’re in with the chance of stealing Amazon’s potential customers.

Back to Amazon’s Weaknesses 

How To Beat Amazon: A Giant-Killing Guide for Small Businesses

Ready to dust off your boxing gloves out and convince potential customers that you’re more worthy of their cash than Amazon?

Although you won’t need to go to that extreme, here’s two steps for how you can beat the Amazon giant – Be Friendier and Be Faster.


Be Friendlier: Deliver A+ Customer Service At All Stages in the Buying Process

Did you know that just 67% of Amazon shoppers are ‘very satisfied’ with their customer service?

Granted, that sounds like a huge chunk of happy customers—but it means a third of their current pool of customers aren’t happy:

how to beat amazon - great customer serviceSource: Statista

Is this why consumers are looking to other stores that offer perks (such as free returns)?

Smaller business have the upper hand over Amazon—and the potential to steal 33% of their customers—by offering customer service that blows Amazons’ out of the water.

This is possible if you’re:

  • Always going the extra mile to help potential buyers
  • Sending handwritten notes to customers
  • Being empathetic when dealing with your customers’ problems
  • Quickly responding to any problems or queries that come your way

On average, the top 100 retailers in the U.S. take 17 hours to respond to an email.

Since your small business is likely to have fewer enquiries, there’s a strong chance you’re able to solve your customer’s query long before one of Amazon’s customer service team reads their initial email.

That’s always going to put you in a consumer’s good books, and great customer service will get you extra word-of-mouth too. Just ask Zappos.

Be Faster: Make it Checkout Easier and More Convenient for Your Customers to Purchase

If you’ve ever tried to purchase a product on Amazon, you wouldn’t be alone if you felt frustrated with their checkout process.

If you’re not familiar, they use an account-based checkout system. You can’t make a purchase without signing up.

37% of all online cart abandonments happen because the site they were trying to purchase on wanted them to create an account:

how to beat amazon - make checkout easy

Source: Baymard Institute

Why not eliminate this from your customer’s buying process and capture the customers Amazon are obviously missing out on?

You could also:

  • Allow potential customers to check out as a guest
  • Confirm that the checkout page works well on mobile devices
  • Make sure your site uses HTTPS
  • Enable social login (one-click, instead of filling out forms)

Here’s a great example of how Fab’s checkout page makes it easy for customers to purchase by enabling social logins:

how to beat amazon - fab easy checkout

Source: Fab

Since you’re able to use trusted pre-authorized websites to store your information, why wouldn’t you opt for this checkout process over Amazon’s?

Final Thoughts: Can Small Businesses Compete with Amazon? (Yes!)

Now you’re in-the-know about the power you’ve got when competing with Amazon for online sales, use it to your advantage.

Focus on boosting customer loyalty and build branding evangelists, but don’t feel intimidated by Amazon’s market share.

Remember: Customers will always pick the brand that goes above and beyond to meet their needs—whether they’re looking for a new pencil or a $5,000 hot tub for their garden.

Although Amazon is the biggest eCommerce brand in the world, they’re not untouchable.

Next week, we’ll have more about how to beat Amazon at their own game!

ReferralCandy Guide: How to Compete with Amazon:

how to compete with amazon
How to beat Amazon: Amazon’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities

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 (you are here)

Part 3 – Competing with Amazon: 4 Quick Wins for Small eCommerceBrands

Elise Dopson

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.