How Food & Beverage Brands Can Beat Amazon at Ecommerce

David and Goliath. This is the analogy I recently used with a specialty food brand who wanted to solely rely on Amazon’s Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) program for sales and building their brand in ecommerce.

They assumed investing in marketing their online store wouldn’t be of value in an Amazon world.

You probably already know the biblical tale of the young boy who defeats the big bad giant using a sling.

Today, it’s become the great underdog tale. The smaller opponent faces and defeats the much bigger adversary. Our young hero David didn’t defeat the much larger Goliath by meeting him at a level playing field.

He didn’t play his opponent’s game…

…because he would’ve gotten crushed by the giant’s brute force!

Instead he played his own game, using his advantages to win.

And yet, many specialty food and beverage brands want to play at an equal playing field with Amazon. They want to compete with other sellers on Amazon’s marketplace for short-term sales rather than building a long-term brand on their own ecommerce store.

Let’s play to our strengths instead.

Amazon is Goliath

Here’s are some interesting statistics to consider about ecommerce:

Needless to say, competition on Amazon is steep.

When you place all your time in Amazon, you’re competing against millions of sellers fighting for consumer attention.

The customer experience is no longer solely about your brand but instead, Amazon’s marketplace, and you’re just one of many sellers in ecommerce.

So, when this specialty food brand expressed not seeing a way to dominate in ecommerce without submitting to Amazon’s marketplace, I laughed knowing they could go direct to consumer on their own.

Pitfalls of Being a Giant in Ecommerce

The truth is, mega-corporations like Amazon are too big to master the smallest of details.

And these small details are your sling to defeat the ecommerce giant.

For instance, they service the masses so finding something very specific such as a specialty food or beverage product like yours might be difficult. You have the advantage of offering something unique.

Another pitfall is sellers can’t build a strong brand when they’re in a commoditized marketplace like Amazon. Your customers are being exposed to hundreds of other brands that are selling the same products as you (at a lower price). They most likely don’t even pay attention to your brand’s name, just who’s cheaper.

Here’s a major pain point for sellers. The customer is ALWAYS right on Amazon. Amazon will always side with them leaving you to foot the bill if they claim your product was damaged or not as listed. This leaves you with no way to reach out to the customer personally to make it right.

Related Article: The Hispanic power in Online Shopping

5 ways to defeat Amazon with your sling

So how exactly does one beat Amazon at their own ecommerce game?

The truth is, unless you have a Walmart-sized budget, you technically can’t.

Instead you can do the things Amazon can’t. You can choose to play a different game altogether and win.

Here’s how:

  1. Offer something very niche and specialized
    Amazon can’t offer everything…yet. By offering products that are uniquely positioned in your market, you increase your chances of consumers seeking you out and following you back to your online store.
  2. Create a fanatical brand
    Put effort into growing your brand equity. By providing value up front through content and using the power of story to communicate your brand’s mission. Your target customers will begin to identify with your brand. This is a challenge on Amazon’s marketplace where every product page looks the same regardless of brand name. Your online store is an experience to your customers, make it an exciting one.
  3. Get VERY personal with your customers
    Corporate behemoths can’t create better customer service than the little guys. You have the power to reach out directly to your ecommerce customers and create rapport with them at a quicker pace than your large rivals. While brands like Amazon can spend tons of resources on call centers and customer service reps, you can pick up the phone and give your customer a call; or thank them for their purchase. The little things that can’t scale are what Amazon can’t compete with you on.
  4. Offer free shipping (or free with a minimum order)
    Amazon has Prime (2-day shipping, some orders even within the day). Your target customers may not expect to receive their products within two days but will expect shipping to be free (built into the cost of the product) or low enough compared to the products they’re purchasing.
  5. Use Amazon as a sales channel
    There’s no reason to abandon Amazon, it’s too powerful to ignore. Why not use it as another ecommerce sales channel? List your entry-level products to get attention and siphon them to your store with incentives such as a first-time purchase discount. Use their email to engage them with valuable content or offers so your online store is the only option.

Are you ready to dominate your category in ecommerce?

These are 5 operational ways to defeat dependence on Amazon to grow your food and beverage brand. But in order dominate ecommerce, you’ll need to transform your marketing in order to connect with your audience, convert traffic into customers, and create brand advocates.

If you’re ready to dominate your category in ecommerce, but aren’t sure what changes to make to your marketing, I might be able to help you. Reach out to me at SparkPPC – Specialty Food & Beverage Marketing & Consulting for a one-on-one strategy call. Let’s dominate your food and beverage category.