Will Amazon affect my business?

Amazon is the latest buzzword everyone is talking about. The online giant is coming to Australia and if you aren’t just a little bit curious about what it will do to our market, then, quite frankly, you should be. 

A few small retail business owners I have spoken to recently seem to believe they will be unaffected by Amazon entering the Australian market, however, no matter how big or small you are, or what retail space you occupy, you will be affected—it’s time to get your head out of the sand.

Big online only retailers have already had an impact on our small business retail sector and Amazon is only going to exasperate the situation. 

Big online retailers have changed the landscape of retail. They have changed our customers forever. Three massive changes have been in: 

1. The attitude of the consumer—our customers now come with an attitude of 'competitiveness'. If you can’t supply it customers know they can easily buy it online. As retailers, we hear that so often from our customers. This was once a threat, but is now more of a challenge. 

2. The education of the consumer—our customers now come into our stores educated. Seventy per cent of customers have done some research online before going into a bricks and mortar store. They know what they want and why they want it before our sales process has even begun. 

3. The expectations of the consumer—customers’ expectations in both supply and price have changed dramatically. Our customers want their problems solved now and they want it for the right price. We have it up on those pesky onliners though. Bricks and mortar have the opportunity to offer so much more than competing on price and supply alone.

Three ways to differentiate yourself from ALL your competitors: 

1. Have heart, passion and drive in your business. The advantage of small business is the passion, love and drive a business owner has for what they do. This is evident throughout their whole business, from their marketing, to the way they answer the phone, to the way they interact with their customers, to how the store is laid out to give their customers the best chance of loving them back. Big business often has no heart, no passion—just a drive for profit.

2. Give every customer an experience when they enter your business. A customer experience is like marketing—it’s everything and involves everything. It begins at first contact (which may or may not be entering your store, it might be your website or your front window displays) and never finishes. That’s the business growth clincher—once a customer has entered your store you need to have ways of gathering data so you can continue to be in contact with them—nurturing—not always selling.

3. Create loyal customers not transactional customers. Transactional customers are 'once-off' customers but business growth and success comes from creating loyal customers who shop frequently, not on price, but because they have a relationship with you and/or your store.

With 60 per cent of small businesses closing in Australia within their first three years of opening, your survival may just depend on how well you differentiate yourself from your competitors.

By Jenn Donovan, www.inspiringretail.com.au