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How independent businesses can compete with Amazon. British Independent Retailers Association
By Bira

Four ways to compete with Amazon

Continuing her top-tips series, Vend’s Francesca Nicasio suggests sales, pricing and product strategies to implement to attract and convert customers online.

With the right people, marketing strategies and products, you’ll find that going up against ecommerce stores is entirely doable.

1. Emphasise speed and convenience

Online shoppers almost always have to wait at least a couple of days for their purchases to arrive (or pay handsomely for overnight shipping).

As a brick-and-mortar retailer, you can use this to your advantage by highlighting your ability to provide instant gratification to customers. When communicating with shoppers, emphasise the fact that they can walk out of your store with their items instead of having to wait or pay for shipping.
When selling speed and convenience, it’s best to market to those who are on your doorstep. Update your online presence so customers can easily find your store during the research phase of the purchase process.

2. Go beyond commodities

Stock up on merchandise that customers won’t find anywhere else. Anything that can be traced to an ISBN or SKU number is mass-produced, mass-marketed, and mass-discounted. Local retailers need to focus on stocking more locally-produced items or uniquely-distributed ones, so they aren’t competing on price directly.
One thing you could do is create your own merchandise (see our cover story on pages 16-18 about Trotter & Deane, which sells only own-label).

3. Be competitive with pricing

Price matching is a possible strategy, but it can also kill your profits. That’s why you need to be more creative when pricing products and crafting promotions. Here’s how:
Work with your suppliers – One thing you could do is to work closely with your suppliers and see if you can lower your cost of goods. Can you get a better price by buying larger volumes? Another option would be to consolidate orders for items or with other buyers. This, of course, is how the bira direct buying group is able to offer such excellent prices to bira members.
Customise offers – Rather than offering blanket discounts, segment your buyers and send them tailored promotions based on their shopping behaviour.

4. Go online

Finally, recognise that you also need to have an ecommerce presence. Not having a digital storefront means you’re missing out on a lot of potential customers.
Creating an online store is easier than ever. Many cloud-based solutions provide templates, drag-and-drop interfaces, and other tools to make it simple to set up an ecommerce site.
When setting up your online store, be sure to integrate it with your bricks-and-mortar locations. Select a solution that syncs stocks and customer data across multiple channels so you can view, update, and manage your online and offline stores without having to deal with double entries or discrepancies. Keeping your store data in sync also paves the way for omnichannel services such as click-and-collect.

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