The Small Business Guide to Surviving the Amazon-pocalypse

 

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Amazon’s arrival in Australia is looming, with the company already establishing its first warehouse facility in Dandenong South in Melbourne, and a full rollout predicted to happen some time in 2018.

There’s no doubt that the retail giant will shake up the Aussie retail market, but if you’re a small business owner, there are steps you can take to make sure you’re prepared to weather the storm. Here’s what you need to know.

Get your ecommerce offering in tip-top shape

If you sell your products or services online, now is the time to make sure your ecommerce functionality is up-to-scratch. You should ensure your online store is user-friendly, optimised for mobile devices and tablets, and has sufficient capability to manage changes in stock levels, discount codes and so on. Amazon is likely to make online shopping more of a priority for Australians, so be sure you’re ready to compete as technology advances.

If you’re new to the world of ecommerce, platforms like Shopify, Magento, and Big Cartel make setting up an online shop intuitive – you can even use them to build a website for your business, or integrate them into your existing website.

Offer competitive perks

While you may not be able to offer super-fast delivery and huge product range like Amazon, you can offer perks such as free delivery days or discount codes. Special offers will help you remain competitive and show your customers that you appreciate their business. Online deals are also a great way to encourage repeat business from customers and boost loyalty to your brand.

Remember that many customers comparison shop in real-time. If you see shoppers in your store looking at their phones while they browse your products, you may want to offer a price-matching deal – if they find a better deal on Amazon, you can match it in store (when possible).

Know your customer

One of the secrets to Amazon’s success is that they deeply analyse their customers’ habits, so they can predict what people’s buying behaviours and preferences will be ahead of time. The good news is that you too can glean some useful insights about your customer base using a few simple tools.

Google Analytics, for example, can tell you what sorts of people are visiting your website, when they’re visiting, what pages they’re looking at, and more. Other tools like Facebook Insights, Hootsuite, or your ecommerce platform’s analytics hub can give you valuable information about your customers’ buying habits and preferences as well. This data takes the guesswork out of understanding your customers and will ultimately help you provide what people want when they want it.

Tout your “local” aspect

Around 90% of Australians prefer to buy locally made products, according to Roy Morgan Research[1]. Similarly, a 2016 report found that 48% of Australian consumers always prefer to buy from small businesses[2]. So if you offer local products, make sure to advertise that fact on your website and anywhere else you market your products. Even if you’re a service-based business, showing that you’re a small business who really understands customers on an individual level can help set you apart and above from a corporate entity like Amazon.

If you haven’t already, consider signing up for a True Local listing, where you can showcase your small business persona, highlight great reviews from real people, and help boost your local search engine rankings to boot.

And if you can’t beat ‘em…

Join ‘em! Depending on your business model, you might find that setting up shop directly using their platform is one of the smartest moves you can make. After all, their site attracts millions of people daily, so you’ll be exposed to lots of new potential customers, plus you can piggyback off their warehousing and delivery capabilities using their Fulfilment By Amazon service.

 

For more no-nonsense advice, take a look at our small business blog.

[1] http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/6616-aussie-made-products-surge-in-popularity-201601042157

[2] https://www.americanexpress.com/au/content/shopsmall/shopsmallreport.pdf

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