Learn how DTC brands can stay competitive in the age of Amazon.
If you’re an avid online shopper, chances are you love Amazon. What’s not to love? They sell everything, your orders ship extremely fast, you get competitive prices, you almost never have a hard time returning products, and Amazon’s one click checkout makes completing a purchase fast and simple. It’s no wonder Amazon surpassed Walmart, becoming the biggest retailer in the world.
On the other hand, if you’re a merchant in the direct-to-consumer space, chances are you loathe Amazon. They make it next to impossible to compete with their customer service and shipping speed if you don’t have the scale. If you happen to find a unique product that sells well, their marketplace will quickly get flooded with competitors, knocks-offs and perhaps even an Amazon Basics version. And if you’re brave enough to sell through their FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) platform, you have to navigate their complex policies and put up with their high fees.
Direct-to-consumer is challenging on its own, but throw Amazon in the mix, and you have a classic case of David versus Goliath. Here are some ways through which you can give your shoppers a reason to purchase with you instead of Amazon.
Whatever product category you’re in, you should know what you’re selling inside and out. Your shoppers will come to you if they know they can get the professional and personalized advice on the product that they simply can’t get when shopping on Amazon.
Your shop should be filled with resources and content that offer a detailed use case for your product. Having a live chat with experts readily available to answer your shopper’s questions will go a long way in closing sales. Product fitting “quizzes” give the sense of being assessed by an expert and help your consumer make a better purchasing decision. Clare paint’s Colour Genius is a great example of a product fitter done right.
It’s no secret that brands need to focus more on content today than they ever have before. All forms of content are key; blogs, videos, reels, podcasts, photography, guides, etc. But you don’t have to focus on every content type and every channel. Pick one or two types of content that you can pump out consistently and focus on them Yes, it’s time consuming and can be expensive if you’re not doing it yourself, but it’s necessary.
If you don’t have the resources to be pumping out content internally, partnering with an existing mid-level influencer or content creator in your space is a good idea. There are plenty of tools out there to find the right creator in your niche, but don’t overthink it. Find someone whose aesthetic and tone fits your brand and reach out to them to work out a partnership.
Investing in content is an investment in your audience. It will help you build an engaged audience rather than simply attracting shoppers, and this is a key ingredient for building a successful brand.
It is fair to assume that you aren’t dealing with the same volume of customers that Amazon is dealing with. With a smaller customer base, you can actually focus on building personal relationships and create loyalty with your customers. Personalization doesn’t just mean including their first name in your newsletter. It means going beyond that: a handwritten note inside your packaging that acknowledges your customer and thanks them for their purchase sparks a relationship. An email or phone call to see how their shopping experience was on your website will comfort them and build trust, leading to repeat purchases and new customer referrals. When it comes to Amazon, every shopper knows that they are just another order number; that doesn’t have to be the case with your shoppers.
Here is a creative way to personalize your marketing efforts: direct mail. Most brands focus on pounding their email list over and over with identical sales-y emails that become exhaustive and don’t stand out in crowded inboxes. Try using a tool like Postpilot which makes it easy to send personalized postcards to your audience. This helps create a strong relationship between your brand and your customer while delivering a memorable experience.
This one may raise some eyebrows since earlier in this article I mentioned the pain points of being an Amazon merchant. Amazon’s platform takes quite a while to get used to and navigating their policies can be overwhelming at times. And while Amazon brings the store-front infrastructure and customers, that doesn’t come cheap. Amazon charges a referral fee for each item sold, which can range between 8% and 15%, thus slicing heavily into any healthy margin.
But for all those troubles, there are also several benefits to selling on the platform. You will reach a new audience and thus generate new awareness for your brand. Every sale you make to an Amazon customer is an opportunity to reel them into your ecosystem and drive repeat purchases through your own store. It is also much easier to expand internationally and start selling into new markets through Amazon. You can run small tests to new markets by creating listings on a local Amazon before investing heavily in logistics and operations in that market. I know recommending joining the “enemy” is a little contradictory but like they say, “if you can’t beat em, join em’’.
A brand’s network of existing customers are arguably their most unused asset. Most brands know they should be engaging their existing customers further post-sale, yet brands do not know how. One of the best ways to tap into your network of loyal customers is by giving them a platform on which to stand out.
Moast, for example, turns your best customers into “Hosts” by enabling them to engage and schedule meetups with shoppers. Through Moast, shoppers can contact existing customers and ask questions or request an in-person meetup to see the product. These Hosts are featured on an interactive map, creating a sort of “micro-community” directly on your website. With Moast, brands let their best customers do the talking and can accelerate their sales cycle almost 2x faster.
Investing in this customer community building initiative takes time and effort but when done right, the results are noticeable. This army of Hosts helps you deepen your relationship with your loyal customers and gives your shoppers a strong reason to come choose you instead of Amazon. Give Moast a try!