Unless you live under a rock, you’re all too aware that Amazon.com is lapping up market share. But that doesn’t mean you should give up or give in. Press pause on the panic attack, step back, assess their strategy and apply what you learn to your business. You’ll be better for it. And your business will, too!
Here’s our take on what furniture stores can learn and implement to compete with Amazon.
1. Anticipate Customer Need
Amazon.com is AMAZING at knowing what a customer wants and needs next. That’s because they use artificial intelligence to analyze buying cycles. This enables them to present just the right offer at just the right time.
Maybe you can’t afford advanced AI, but you can afford to become a student of your store and adjust accordingly. For example, can you identify an uptick in the sale of a particular type of item around a certain time of year? Like, dorm furniture. Why not increase your inventory of said item in advance of the “buying season” and send a few emails to your database introducing your local solution before your shoppers even realize they have a need? (Bonus points if you offer dorm delivery to the local university.)
2. Move Over Bass, It’s All About That Data
Amazon encourages complete vendor catalog information on their products to ensure that people who shop with them have all the information they need – including reviews and recommendations.
In your store, implementing a catalog data processing system (like Amber Engine) is an easy and affordable way to make sure your customers have the information they need. And, even if you don’t have a website, the data provided can populate your POS systems to assist your sales team in information sharing and trust building.
3. Focus on Customer Experience
It’s no secret that you get what you want when you shop from Amazon . . . and you get it quickly. They revolutionized logistics for fast, reliable delivery. Not to mention the interconnectedness of the Amazon Echo and Alexa’s ability to become your favorite personal assistant.
Now, we’re not suggesting you create a smart home hub for your business, but you can focus on creating an exceptional customer experience. Maybe you offer free gift wrapping or free local deliveries? Maybe you provide classes and demonstrations in your store? Maybe you offer personal shopping via a FaceTime appointment to help shoppers who can’t get away from the office buy that perfect gift?
4. Embrace the Power of Suggestion
Amazon builds on product search with two additional fields that show what other people viewed and bought when entering the same query.
In your store, encourage your salespeople to make additional recommendations. “Yes, this sofa is fabulous – but I don’t want you to overlook this one. It’s similar but is [INSERT MODIFIER].” This also creates an opportunity for your store associates to become style consultants – helping clients put more of an overall look together, rather than letting someone walk out with a sofa alone.
5. Employ the Incentive
Raise your hand if you have an Amazon Prime membership. Is it for the library of free movies you can watch? Heck no! It’s for the 2-day free shipping. Amazon knows that incentives work. Hello, Prime Day!
Take a page out of the Amazon book and create a loyalty program to boost customer engagement, collect additional customer data and keep those customers coming back for more. And while you may not be able to offer 2-day shipping – you may be able to wedge in a free, same-day local delivery for in-stock items. Talk about a key incentive!!!
6. Upsell, Upsell, Upsell
While this isn’t a concept new and novel to Amazon, it’s one of the things they do incredibly well. You know that Frequently Bought Together section below the item you’re shopping for? That brings in additional sales – even if it’s only a $5 add on. Better still if package pricing is an option, because that improves the perceived value of the shopping cart and makes shoppers feel better about what they’re buying.
Why not borrow the idea and make suggested add-ons? “Oh, let me show you what my last customer did with this awesome chair. They added this blanket and this accent pillow and SHAZAM – instant designer look! If you want all three, I’ll give you my employee discount for 10% off everything.”
7. Create Urgency
Amazon creates urgency with a sneaky little line that you probably don’t even know you see, “Only X left in stock.” When people know that something they want is in limited supply, they’re quick to act. Think about all the grocery store footage ever shown of people preparing for a hurricane.
To create urgency in your store, casually mention the number of products you have left in stock. It doesn’t have to be elaborate to be effective, either. “Oh, that table is crazy popular right now! We only have 2 left in stock after the weekend.” The customer doesn’t have to know that you started the weekend with 2 or that you only ordered 2 from the start. And they also don’t have to know how many you sell and how often. They just need to know that you only have 2 in stock and their brains will do the rest.
Now that we’ve uncovered a smattering of suggestions small retailers can take from the Amazon playbook, which tips are you going to put in place?