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How SMEs can compete with Amazon

 

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When it comes to ecommerce, there is no escaping Jeff Bezos and his Amazon empire. Selling almost any item for discount prices with the bonus of lightning fast global delivery could leave you thinking that resistance is futile and Bezos will crush any uprising.

But in the year of 2016, when we’ve learned (the hard way) not to ignore even the most unlikely power-hungry contenders, the magic trick isn’t to tilt Bezos and Amazon off the throne, but rather to exploit their weaknesses.

This is a throne soon to be guarded by an army of drones, and if that wasn’t already a clear indicator that, for Amazon, the sky is truly the limit, then the tech titan’s recent market moves surely are.

Amazon has in recent years launched several pop-up stores around the US plus a bookstore in its hometown of Seattle, but this was evidently just the beginning of yet another venture.

Taking on the big guys

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A few months ago the company announced its plans to introduce physical convenience stores to stock perishable everyday products such as milk and meat, as well as introducing kerb side drive-in locations to pick up products purchased online.

Most people could be forgiven for thinking that waging war with Wal-Mart would be enough of a distraction during the critical holiday season, but Amazon wants to play with all the big kids in the sandpit. It was recently reported that the on-demand video streaming service, Amazon Prime, will undergo a mammoth steroid boost and thereby become Netflix’s number one contender budget-wise.

However, the sheer size and relentless ambition of Amazon could also be its Achilles’ heel. When you want to do everything, you can’t do everything to perfection, and that is why even small and medium businesses (SMBs) still have ample opportunities to thrive in the ecommerce ecosystem.

With busy and impatient consumers increasingly doing their shopping from their own bed, investing in ecommerce and having a clear online marketing strategy is crucial to all businesses, and for new and small businesses it can be the difference between rapid growth and a slow death.

Time for SMBs to begin the ecommerce venture

Still, ecommerce remains a largely unexploited territory for most of these businesses. In the European Union only 28 per cent of medium businesses and a staggering 17 per cent of small businesses engage in ecommerce. If this seems like a gloomy read, the turnover numbers are even more troubling: only 13 per cent for medium businesses and 6 per cent for small businesses.

Launching ecommerce as part of your strategy can seem like a handful for some businesses, especially those still running in single-digit employee numbers. To put it simply though, you don’t need much more than a website (or app) and boxes for shipping. Plus someone who knows how to run, maintain and possibly upgrade the service.

Of course, this is a very simplistic view. Giving your customers the luxury of shopping from home, work or the gym doesn’t translate to automatic success. There are traps to be aware of and if Google or Amazon is waving a hypnotizing wand just one click away, the risk of customers being led astray is high.

So what tactics can SMBs employ to tackle this threat? Keeping customers on-site is pivotal and video content has proved to be the future of that game.

Video vital in keeping customers

In the realm of ecommerce, video content becomes especially important on the very last climb of the shopping journey. Once the consumer has narrowed down a product of interest, he or she will do some final research to ensure the quality and suitability of the product.

This is where it gets troublesome for emerchants. Consumers want to see reviews, unboxing videos, and instruction videos etc., which then jet them over to YouTube or other video portals. In order to keep customers on-site, it is crucial to integrate the video content as part of an aligned shopping experience.

Studies show that as many as 73 per cent of consumers are more likely to purchase a product after watching an explanatory video. For emerchants this obviously leads to increased sales, but also fewer returns and fewer customers bouncing off the website.

Now more than ever we need to be providing a guided internet journey that supports the interest of the consumer and provides relevant contextual information and content.

When Amazon and its fellow online giants upgrade their offerings, their primary tool for success is to design the simplest possible experience for consumers to purchase their favourite products.

With that said, the Amazon shopping experience has only evolved slightly since its inception, so after 20 years of ecommerce, it is about time to sharpen up and have external video content integrated as a natural part of it. If not on Amazon, then definitely elsewhere.

Vishal Kawatra is the co-founder of NowDiscover, a video content recommendation engine for retailers.

 

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