The 800 Pound Gorilla: The Internet eTailer
Amazon is just revolutionizing retail, any other adjective or any other verb would suffice. They are changing the way every retailer on the planet is thinking about retailing, and if they aren’t, they should be thinking about it differently because of Amazon, even Big Box retailers have had to change the way they do business because of Amazon so why should independent retailers be any different?
It’s important to keep in mind that the online consumer is wealthier than average. According to a report by Forrester Research, online buyers with household incomes of $75,000 or more represent the largest group of the online consumer population. In fact, they make up more than 40 percent of all online buyers—almost twice the number of those with household incomes of $50,000 to $75,000. These consumers have considerable spending power, making it important for businesses to invest in the e-commerce space.
Here are a few tips for how retailers can build an e-commerce business to compliment your retail shop fit for today’s demanding consumer:
1. Offer free shipping, or at least pay for returns. Having to pay large shipping fees on a domestic order is a huge turn-off for a customer. Retailers like Amazon have created the expectation that postage is free. Studies have shown that many consumers would rather pay extra for the product than have to shell out for shipping.
2. Create loyalty programs to reward the best customers. Big retailers are basing these off of airlines’ programs, where the more you buy, the more perks you get. A loyalty program gives the consumer a big incentive to shop at the online store. The online format also allows customers to track their “points” or rewards and be involved with the retailer on a personal level.
3. Demonstrate how an item looks or works using video merchandising. Zappos.com (which is owned by Amazon) gives shoppers a video demonstration of most of the shoes, garments and accessories it sells so they can better evaluate them. Rather than trying to read the dimensions in the fine print, a customer looking for a tote bag can just watch a video of a model carrying it on her shoulder to gauge whether it is the right size. If a business can’t do videos of products, photo demonstrations will do.
4. Search online to see what the competition is. A study from Forrester Research shows that more than 30 percent of customers search online for the best deals. There’s little chance they will shell out for an item on one website if it’s cheaper somewhere else even if it is offline in a brick and mortar. Being educated gives e-tailers/retailers more power.
If customers can order easily with free shipping, there is no reason for them to order on Amazon over any other retailer online, we’d also point out specialty retailers have the advantage of offering better products than anyone else.
With a few steps to make the consumer happy, any business’ website can compete with Amazon.