how to compete with Amazon

How to Compete with Amazon: A Guide for Commerce Companies

With delivery trucks on your street, lockers and returns counters in your favorite stores, and deals in your email inbox, it seems like Amazon is more than “the everything store” – it’s the everywhere store, too. The dominant player in eCommerce is among the world’s largest retail brands, and it may feel impossible to even try to compete. 

But smaller can be better.  You can leverage your unique brand value and the power of personalization to build one-to-one connections with customers that win sales, even when competing head-to-head with the biggest player on the eCommerce block. 

Can Anyone Compete with Amazon?

On the surface, it may seem impossible to compete online with a brand as dominant as Amazon. By some measures, Amazon alone accounts for more than half of all U,S,  eCommerce spending and more than 8% of retail sales overall. Last year more than half of the U.S. population – 176 million Amazon shoppers – used a paid Prime membership to access free, fast shipping and other benefits, according to research from CIRP. 

Amazon’s ultra-efficient ordering and delivery is one reason for the site’s popularity; another is its seemingly-infinite assortment of categories and products, offered at competitive prices. With more than 300 million items on offer, shoppers can find practically anything they need and buy it all conveniently from a single source. You can stock up on cat food and order a patio furniture set with a single click.

But there’s a flip side to Amazon’s advantages. The efficiencies of scale come at the expense of one-to-one customer connection. And the broad selection is also shallow, with no underlying expertise or stylistic point of view to guide shoppers. Customers must scroll and sift to figure out which products are really right for them – an experience Amazon has capitalized on by selling paid product placements that make it even more difficult to spot the gems amidst the ad slots and boosted listings. 

5 Ways Commerce Companies can Compete with Amazon

That’s where your brand comes in. By providing the depth and the personal touch Amazon lacks, you can compete with Amazon, successfully carving out market share and building a thriving business. Here’s how:

1. Specialize in your category.  

While the broad selection of products from millions of sellers make Amazon “the everything store,” that reputation is a double-edged sword. The site is far from a helpful shopping experience if you’re looking for help discerning among items in a particular niche – say, the best family camping tents or the best type of beginner ukelele to buy. 

That’s where you come in. Whatever your category, you can establish your brand as the go-to resource for quality selection and expert guidance. To stand out, offer:

  • A deep selection of products. While your catalog isn’t as vast as Amazon’s, ensure it’s deep and comprehensive within your chosen niche. Offer a variety of price points and styles within product subcategories, and make product comparisons easy by clearly and consistently explaining features and materials from item to item. 
  • Buying advice from real experts. Create reviews and buying guides that showcase your staff’s on-the-ground expertise, and thoroughly train store associates and customer service reps. Even automated product recommendations can showcase your brand’s credibility by grouping items that go together – such as stakes and inflatable mattresses alongside tents – not just displaying what “others who viewed this item also viewed.”

2. Highlight authenticity. 

Not only can Amazon’s selection be overwhelming, but it can also be hard to pick out quality items. Counterfeits are a serious problem, with Amazon spending $1.2 billion fighting marketplace fraud in 2022 alone, according to Digital Commerce 360. What’s more, researchers found that as many as 43% of Amazon reviews are fake, according to Cybernews, making it even harder to figure out which products are reliable. 

Your brand can offer a contrast by highlighting authenticity. Not only should you showcase real staff experts, but consider these tactics for building a stellar reputation:

  • Authenticate and certify products. If you’re an authorized dealer of brand-name merchandise, remind shoppers of that fact with badges on product pages, and earn category-specific certifications to communicate credibility. Spotlight quality with profiles of artisans or behind-the-scenes peeks at your sustainable manufacturing processes. 
  • Badge reviews from verified buyers. As part of your post-purchase re-engagement strategy, invite customers to contribute reviews and highlight their contributions with a badge or icon. Enable video reviews and photos to further highlight real people using your products.

3. Deliver standout service.

Amazon provides comprehensive self-service options, but it’s harder to connect in real time with a human – and if you’re trying to reach a third-party marketplace seller, you can only message via Amazon’s platform, rather than reaching out directly via phone or live chat. Your brand can provide an alternative that emphasizes one-to-one contact and accessibility. 

  • Proactively address common questions with self-service content. Invest in building out comprehensive, easy-to-read information covering such topics as returns and exchanges, shipping timelines, gift card redemption policies, and the like. Then go deep into product-related customer service by providing fit guides, displaying care information on the product detail page, and producing how-to- videos describing how to set up, install, and use items. 
  • Create consistency across service channels. Wherever shoppers choose to engage with your brand, they should feel as though they’re picking up where they left off – not starting back at square one. Ensure customer-facing staff across the company work from a single source of truth by enabling access to order histories and product preferences. 

4. Get creative with fulfillment.

There’s no doubt about it: Amazon’s vast logistics network and swift delivery capabilities are hard to match. But with resourcefulness and clear communication, your fulfillment experiences can demonstrate follow-through and efficiency your customers will appreciate. 

  • Start with candor. One in five consumers won’t reorder from a retailer after a late delivery, according to research from Descartes and SAPIO. Err on the side of caution and over-communicate shipping timeframes and estimated delivery dates. 
  • Get creative. Home delivery from a distribution center isn’t the only way to connect customers with their goods. If you have physical stores, leverage them to offer free pickup for online orders, or deliver to retail partners or even lockers in malls or other popular locations. You can also pack and ship online orders from your nearest store location, cutting delivery time and costs.
  • Personalize. To align expectations with capabilities, personalize fulfillment options according to shoppers’ locations and prior shipment preferences. Saved addresses and prompts to wrap purchases can be displayed for frequent gift buyers.  

5. Reward loyalty meaningfully.

When shoppers purchase, they’re endorsing your brand and unique offerings – so capitalize on this advantage with re-engagement strategies that double down on relevance and demonstrate your expertise in ways that are meaningful on an individual level. You’ll build trust and encourage a personal connection with the brand that goes deeper than free shipping. 

  • Offer rewards that resonate. Whether or not you have a formal loyalty program, use personalization to encourage repeat purchase with tailored offers that reflect buyers’ product preferences, budgets, and shopping behaviors. In-store shoppers might appreciate free VIP stylist appointments, for example, while online buyers might prefer a free shipping coupon.
  • Value advocacy. Shoppers trust recommendations from friends and family above any form of advertising, according to Nielsen, so go beyond tallying repeat orders to recognize and reward word-of-mouth advocacy. Delight customers who give your brand a shout-out on social media or refer others with a discount offer or free extra the next time they order.


How can Personalization Software Help My Business Compete with Amazon?

To stand in contrast to Amazon’s broad-but-bland shopping experience, you need to establish a personal connection with shoppers. It’s not enough to demonstrate generic category expertise; you need to offer products and promotions that tie to specific individual needs. 

That’s where personalization software can help. Monetate’s personalization platform leverages AI to infuse the entire online shopping experience with real-time relevance. Your brand’s unique value shines at every stage on the path to purchase:

  • Tailored product discovery: Using personalized site search and interactive tools such as style profile builders and gift finders, you can connect shoppers with the right products and content faster than generic tools. 
  • Responsive browsing and research: As shoppers explore products on your site, their activities signal preferences and priorities. With real-time personalization capabilities, you can dynamically tailor product assortments and present relevant content so the experience becomes more intimate with every click. 
  • Context-aware ordering features: By leveraging location and device data, you can display nearby order pickup locations and offer streamlined checkout flows tailored to touch screens.
  • Irresistible re-engagement: Using initial purchase data, you can offer highly relevant opportunities for customers to reconnect. Helpful how-to content, suggested accessories or upgrades, and invitations to join your brand’s customer community online can all reflect individual preferences. 

Armed with these capabilities, you can successfully compete with Amazon and other online brands large and small. By offering deep category expertise and standout customer service with a thoroughly personal touch, you’ll earn trust, drive sales, and drive the strong brand connections that endure.