Beating the Beast: 4 Ways Innovative Retailers are Blazing a New Trail Around Amazon

Abstract Illustration of an urban highway going to the modern city downtown speed motion with colorful light trails. Image of New York City skyline is from my collection.

Fact: every retailer is competing–to some degree or another–with Amazon. They’re a $44 billion company, continually growing, and deliver game-changing customer experience innovations. Surprising fact: Not all brands fear the beast. Many of the mid-market and startup players are actually happy to co-exist and have found ways to adapt and adopt the Amazon CX mentality in ways that only agile ecommerce companies can.

In a panel at the Fashion Digital event, some of the best and brightest in retail talked about tackling the new reality of retail business models. Brands like JustFab, Combatant Gentleman, Moxie Jeans and The Tie Bar told us just how unafraid they are, even when it comes to playing the pricing game..

These 4 strategies aren’t trade secrets. They’re simple, proven strategies for success that every modern brand needs to consider:

1. Own your supply chain. More and more we are seeing this trend dominate the mid-market and startup retail space. It has two major advantages: you can offer exclusive products that customers cannot get anywhere else, as well as allows your brand to control the price and quality. Most often, brands like Combatant Gentleman and The Tie Bar are able to produce exceptional quality goods at a much lower cost than traditional retail. And, of course, they are completely unique to Amazon’s inventory.

2. Cater to customer’s style personas and help them get what they want. Brands like JustFab are championing meeting their customer’s needs. By knowing who your customer is on a granular level (fueled by data), marketers can create experiences that help someone move through the purchasing funnel. It’s a level of personalization that JustFab’s SVP of Marketing, Traci Inglis, is very proud of: “Amazon isn’t doing that. There’s real loyalty and engagement.”

3. Build a relationship of trust. Say what you will about Amazon, but few could deny that they have created a sense of trust with their customers. Mid-market and startup ecommerce companies have to do this even better than Amazon does. Companies like Moxie Jeans do this by having a 100% satisfaction guarantee, free shipping and free returns all the time with no questions asked. And, naturally, having a stellar customer service team doesn’t hurt. Other brands are turning to content to create context and build deeper relationships with their consumers. When your product inventory is the size of Amazon’s it’s not an approach that’s as easy to scale as it is for mid-market and start-up players.

4. Be authentic. This is one of the easiest and biggest opportunities for the smaller retail players. We know that there is a rising tide of consumers who are craving authentic brand relationships. It’s why companies like JackThreads, and Frank and Oak are so successful. They have a defined personality with loyal customers who identify to the brand as more than a purchase engine. And, quite frankly, Amazon may be easy, but it can’t compete with that.