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Competing in the Age of Amazon 

One of the greatest challenges facing the retail and consumer goods sectors today is the rise of the world’s largest e-commerce platform: Amazon. Amazon is able to price cut almost every single one of their competitors while simultaneously providing unprecedented levels of service and shipping solutions to their customers.

 

Need some aspirin? Order it from Amazon – it’ll arrive in a few hours. Need food, clothes, toys, basically anything you can think of – add it into the cart. Want to watch a movie or listen to music while you wait? Stay on Amazon.

 

Traditional retailers cannot keep up by employing the old school technique of price cutting. Research and experience has shown that Amazon has had a “pervasively negative impact” on retail giants traditionally located in malls who have been suffocated by Amazon’s pricing and shipping options.

 

If retailers cannot price compete with Amazon, offer better customer service, or provide 1-day shipping (even on Sundays!), then how can they survive and thrive? Why do many businesses seem to be suffering while others are standing out in the crowd? How can you do the same? 

 

What Do Customers Want from Retailers that They Can’t Get on Amazon?

 

Although Amazon has cornered a gigantic portion of the retail market, recent study of consumers’ shopping habits shows that only one out of every five individuals shops primarily online. These findings illustrate that people are still very much drawn to in-person shopping experiences. 

 

Additionally, online content created specifically for a company’s target audience is proven to increase e-commerce sales dramatically. The content can be educational, entertaining, or somewhere in between – what matters is that it’s engaging.

 

Companies who have wow-ed consumers by curating immersive in-person experiences and/or by creating superb content have managed to thrive in the age of Amazon.

 

 

In-Person Experiences

Apple is well-known for creating retail locations that serve as more than just a place to purchase technological goods. Teenagers, tourists, and adults alike tend to “hang out” in the Apple store, discovering new gadgets because of the inviting and open layout. Positive interactions with the Apple brand and products in-store keep them at the top of mind when consumers are looking for new toys. 

 

The mattress company, Casper, which has disrupted the mattress market in a few short years, has opened 19 locations in the United States based on a store concept called “The Dreamery.” 

 

At The Dreamery, you can book a 45 minute nap session for $25. This is guaranteed to bring in a lot of curious on-lookers into the store, and the more interesting and memorable of an impression someone has with your brand, the more likely they are to purchase from you in the future. An experience at the Casper store is also super “Instagram-able,” making it a great source of organic social media coverage for Casper. 

 

 

These are just two of many examples – retailers have put on interactive art exhibits, speaker events, parties, and more to draw in more people. How can you create an in-person experience for your brand? 

 

 

Create a “Lifestyle”

Lululemon sells more than just leggings and cute sports bras. What they’re really selling is a lifestyle.

 

When people wear the Lululemon logo, what does it signify? First of all, they probably have $100 to spend on a pair of spandex. Secondly, and more importantly, they are signaling to the world that they live a healthy lifestyle.

 

Active imagery and content with healthy individuals populates every touchpoint with the brand: the website, in store experience, store-sponsored events, email content, and more. Further, each item for purchase is branded to a different athletic activity that customers might be interested in pursuing.

 

 

Putting on an item from Lululemon is one step closer to becoming the healthy person you want to be. 

 

 

Crafting Content That Consumers Crave

We’ve previously covered some of the key reasons why your business should be making content, but it’s something that cannot be stressed enough. Good content = unthinkable ROI.

 

One of our favorite content marketing campaigns is Postmates’ The Receipt. The concept behind the campaign is simple: take the receipts of famous users of the platform such as Post Malone or Kylie Jenner, and turn those receipts into a story.

 

Through the campaign, Postmates gives consumers a peek into the purchases of people they want to emulate, and most of us can’t help but be interested. Why did Post Malone buy $8,000 worth of biscuits? I not-so-secretly want to know.

 

 

 

Influencer Campaigning

If you are or know a woman between the ages of 16 and 40 years old, then in the summer of 2018, you could not ignore the new clothing brand Fashion Nova.

 

Cardi B, Kylie Jenner, Amber Rose, the Kardashians and thousands of micro-influencers posted paid content using the hashtag #fashionnovafit. 

 

 

Fashionnova has had one of the most successful social marketing campaigns utilizing primarily this strategy. Paid and organic mentions from Cardi B alone have generated almost $125 million in value for the company. 

 

 

Design an Experience Amazon Can’t Offer

While Amazon’s size gives the platform an edge on competition, the large scale of Amazon’s operation also prevents it from capitalizing on the development of unique experiences that modern consumers crave.

 

We see this with the innovative selling practices of subscription-based clothing retailers like Rent the Runway. This fashion-forward company offers women custom clothing solutions in ways that large e-commerce platforms would find impossible to emulate.

 

Rent the Runway allows subscribers to rent high fashion clothing items on a subscription basis. Customers keep what they like and return what they don’t.

 

 

According to Alexandra Schwartz of the New Yorker, Rent the Runway’s business model provides users with, “an unusual hybrid of fast fashion and luxury, offering speed, variety, and that dopamine hit that comes from buying something new plus the seductive tingle of leaving the house in something expensive.”

 

With Rent the Runway, customers can play with high-end style without any guilt, having an experience no one else has been able to offer thus far.  

 

 

Take an Artisanal Branding Approach

Artisanal branding takes advantage of the modern consumer’s love of authenticity. In an era where everything is mass-produced, we crave the unique and handmade. 

 

 

Pineapple leather manufacturer Piñatex is an exemplary performer when it comes to artisanal branding. The company produces products made out of pineapple leather, which is environmentally friendly, cruelty free, and remarkably similar to actual leather.

 

These unique and innovative characteristics engage consumers in a way traditional items sold online could not. 

 

Conclusion

Retailers looking to make their mark must cultivate a solid understanding of the modern marketing landscape. With a little bit of imagination and a lot of hard work, you can avoid the fate of companies like Toys R Us and Sears who didn’t evolve quickly enough for today’s consumers. 

 

If you are looking to sell your product in an engaging way, contact us to discuss how we can help you to establish a solid position for your company within the highly competitive modern environment.

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