The launch of Amazon in Australia is seeing businesses ramp up their online and bricks and mortar services amid a retail industry shakeup. Amazon’s marketplace, an eBay-style retail store featuring third party sellers, is resetting the caliber of customer expectations through super-low pricing, convenience and fast-delivery, and businesses are stepping up their e-commerce approach to keep up.
Amazon is no longer just an e-commerce site – it’s diverged into delivery services, fresh food, banking, TV streaming and checkout-free grocery stores and is set to take up event ticketing too. Amazon is reshaping the way we shop in 2018 and the focus for Australian retailers and SMEs is to make purchasing more convenient, flexible and customer focused through tailored deliveries and click-and-collect services – all in all, creating the ultimate customer experience that's such a significant piece of the Amazon experience.
Amazon isn’t just seen as the competition though, but a significant opportunity for small business in the retail space that can sign up to the online marketplace and increase sales. Its entry in the marketplace is expected to boost the online shopping industry in Australia to $20.1 billion over the next five years.
These are 10 tips to keep business thriving in a shifting e-commerce era.
1. Service: Keep your focus on the customer and personalised service. Amazon’s world is digital, so create a face-to-face experience that makes customers want to come in-store. New season preview nights, where VIP customers are invited in-store to test out stock before it launches to market, is just one way to do this.
2. Get all the details right including market expertise, reliable delivery, a tightly curated range and a customer-friendly returns policy. Have a laser-sharp focus on the finer details and hone your product expertise. These are just the staples of customer service.
3. Customise and cater to your market. Alipay, the world’s largest payment app, has just launched on the Gold Coast where 1.4 million Chinese tourists visit every year. Alipay lets Chinese visitors use their preferred method of payment in their own currency when they shop at local merchants to enhance the customer experience. Customising service instead of a cookie-cutter approach will boost spending, so explore what technology will bring you closer to customers.
4. Identify your point of difference: If you can’t match Amazon’s speed, set yourself apart in the marketplace. Build your brand around your point of difference and know where to capture customers.
5. Local: Elevate your local presence. Contribute in the community and take a collaborative approach to build a brand that resonates with customers.
6. Instant: For those customers who must have it now, retail is still it. We live in a society of instant gratification, so ensure you know who your customers are and what they want.
7. Quality: Where Amazon is price-competitive, focus on quality. The market trend is owning fewer, high quality pieces.
8. Expand your marketplace: A digital strategy is critical in today’s marketplace, but Amazon isn’t the only solution and you shouldn’t limit your presence to social media. Bartercard members are expanding their customer base through Export Plus, a new initiative breaking businesses into the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market - China. We have partnerships in place with Alibaba.com and Chinese ecommerce marketing specialists to support businesses every step of the way. Visit Export Plus for more information.
9. Jump on! Amazon offers a significant opportunity for small business retailers to sell products through their online marketplace. If you can’t beat them, you might consider joining them!
10. Use Bartercard to supplement your business. Through Bartercard, members buy and sell products and services without using cash. Use ‘trade dollars’ (equivalent to cash dollars) to conserve cash, attract new customers and increase their cash flow.
As consumers we should consider shopping local and supporting small business when and where we can to strengthen and diversity the local economy, which Bartercard is doing every day – in fact last year we saved small businesses over $130 million in cash while attracting new customers. It’s critical to consider the changes and the competition impacting small business in the marketplace, and adapt through digitisation and a sharper member experience.