Can Ecommerce Save the U.S. Postal Service?
Learn how to create an online presence that can thrive outside of Amazon.
The blog was originally published in June of 2018 and updated on September 3, 2021.
Ultra-personalized buying experiences are the future of ecommerce—and one thing Amazon fails to provide.
Building your online presence on a single source ecommerce solution is your biggest asset to maximize loyalty and succeed outside of Amazon in an increasingly saturated economy.
But just how can you thrive alongside Amazon in ecommerce, and is this even the right approach to take? As Amazon strives to be the “everything store”, you can create a standalone presence through personalization and use the ecommerce giant to complement your business.
B2B and B2C websites have traditionally stayed in their own lanes. Amazon, which first found success in the B2C market, now offers a separate marketplace for B2B sellers.
In light of tradition, keeping the two separate makes sense. As the industry progresses, however, so do the old ways of doing business.
While it once made sense to separate B2B and B2C channels, several large-scale online sellers now hold a presence in both. Merging your sites on one robust platform offers a slew of advantages, from time savings to B2B and B2C ecommerce personalization. Most importantly, selling both B2B and B2C on one site will empower your company to deliver one streamlined omnichannel experience—all from an intelligent back-end that’s easier to maintain.
Amazon set a precedent for personalized commerce technology, tailoring content based on shopper history. Unlike an engine unique to your inventory, however, you have no control over which of your products Amazon recommends to shoppers.
This means that the marketplace e-giant, which operates in favor of popular or low-priced products, could showcase competitor products with yours.
74% of customers feel frustrated when website content is not personalized. (Instapage)
Sophisticated technology allows you to regain control over the ecommerce personalization pathway. For instance, you can assign related products within the backend of your website to ensure recommendations are relevant to your customer—and your brand.
In a marketplace where low costs talk, the temptation to enter price wars runs high. But competing on price alone is no viable long-term business model, warns President and Creative Director of EY Studios, Eric Yonge.
“In any industry, there can only be one low-cost leader; somebody can always underbid you. Everybody else has got to pay attention to their brand.”— Eric Yonge, EY Studios
A purveyor of several brands, Amazon is less interested in building their brand around ethical, social, and environment causes and more interested in delivering the most value.
But today’s millennial generation, estimated by Bazaar to carry more impact than any other age group, is highly intentional with their spending habits. As 75% of these shoppers are committed to supporting brands that give back to society, standing behind a mission will do more than make you feel good.
Think of all the brands that give back and what they’re known for: companies like Warby Parker and TOMS that follow the buy-one-give-one model as well as those that give back to the community like how Thrive Farmers supports coffee farmers. These companies are known for their mission and captivating customers through a compelling brand story on their sites and social media.
Whether your company gives back in a similar way or supports your community through jobs and inclusion, millennials want to engage with companies by companies that are transparent about who they are and what they believe. A brand story that starts on your site and comes to life across your owned channels can captivate (and convert) customers in ways that Amazon can’t.
Amazon competes on price, and yet 91% of consumers are more likely to shop at brands that offer a personalized online shopping experience—brands that listen to the customer first and provide relevant offers and recommendations.
86% of shoppers are willing to pay a premium for a customized experience. (Infosys)
Customized ecommerce features like product visualizers, configurators, and kit builders have revolutionized the potential for online shopping personalization and helped to optimize the online checkout process.
Take Decorative Films, one of the largest manufacturers of decorative privacy window films. Through the company’s product visualizer tool on their site, prospective buyers can filter through a wide variety of film configurations—all to help buyers achieve a look as unique as its building their item is placed in.
Building a personalized ecommerce feature that contains sophisticated logic and rules along with site speed is no easy feat. But it’s certainly an investment in the customer and their needs—one that leads to increased sales and customer lifetime value for savvy brands.
Increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits 25% to 95% . (Invespcro)
As much as Amazon is considered an “e-giant” among online retailers, it’s important to consider one major differentiator between Amazon and independent sellers: customer loyalty. Amazon is a leader for low prices, and so customers will peruse and pick companies based on who’s winning the price war that day.
On Amazon, there is little chance to foster brand loyalty—or even promote repeat purchases. By building a brand presence that’s owned by you and adopted by your customers, you can sell on Amazon and gain brand awareness from Amazon leverage using your own website to boost your customer lifetime value.
Acquisition can cost 7x as much as retention, yet only 15% of companies focus on retaining their customers. But the case for increasing customer lifetime value (CLV) is too promising to ignore.
So how does a business go about growing their CLV and offering personalization? Like many other points mentioned here, it takes a strategic focus on the customer—and some time. Valuable content, email marketing, and subscriptions are all proven methods for fostering a healthy relationship with the customer that outlast any singular purchase online.
Visitors need only 2.66 seconds to focus on a key area of a website that influences their first impression. (Missouri University of Science & Technology)
It’s a brutal statistic yet a real reflection of today’s consumer. In a short amount of time, the user is judging your brand on the speed of your site, its navigability, content structure, and overall appeal. That is, your design.
Amazon’s success centers around their mission statement: a commitment to the customer. As a marketplace toAmazon’s success centers around their mission statement: a commitment to the customer. As a marketplace to numerous competing companies, promoting the uniqueness of any one brand is not a priority. Providing a quick, streamlined experience for the customer is.
Given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of users would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain.
Effective design delivers all the information your customers seek, wrapped in the digestible package of your brand story. This is your company’s greatest competitive advantage.
72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging. (SmarterHQ)
Not only will Amazon group your products alongside your competitors’, they also even have the ability to suggest a deal by bundling them together. While this cross-sell may provide value to the customer, it diverts from your owned brand—and the potential of profits to follow.
While upselling was once considered a pushy sales tactic, personalized online shopping has led to the expectation of relevant, customized offerings. Like product recommendations on Amazon, upselling and cross-selling can provide value for the user.
When product recommendations are housed on your site, however, you get to control which products are bundled, promoting value and discoverability in one.
While Amazon opened the door for online shopping, ecommerce continues to flourish on personalized commerce experiences—something that Amazon, with its one-size-fits-all model, is not set up to provide.
Personalized ecommerce features on your site can enhance the experience for your end user. Take “My Garage”, a feature of truck accessories store Xtreme Diesel Performance. This feature delivers for a personalized shopping experience by allowing shoppers to store vehicle information for multiple trucks to an individual account and enticing them to return and engage.
Amazon is projected to account for more for 40% percent of online revenue in 2021. Retailers are feeling the pressure to sell more through their site. While selling on Amazon has its benefits, Amazon sellers are at a disadvantage when it comes to user data—one thing the e-marketplace holds close to the chest.
Data like demographics and order history provide a valuable picture of your customer. Investing in an ecommerce site of your own can unlock a wealth of data: knowledge which will help you better understand, and meet the needs of, your customer.
Founded in 2015, Amazon Business continues to grow alongside its B2C counterpart. Despite its overall success, Amazon Business lacks the sophistication required by large B2B businesses to streamline back-end processes and succeed at B2B ecommerce personalization.
Offering personalization on your site through an ecommerce platform is where your company can get that edge to compete with Amazon. With innovative features like volume pricing, complex customer groups, freight shipping and more, a fully-featured ecommerce platform like Miva can help you effortlessly orchestrate the people, products, and systems that comprise your ecommerce business.
Amazon set a precedent for shopping online. The e-marketplace delivers on value for the customer and enables discoverability and referrals for retailers.
Today’s advanced technologies have led to new developments and opportunities in ecommerce for all merchants. By building your site upon an intuitive, robust ecommerce platform, implementing the right strategies for your brand, and utilizing Amazon as an extension (not the foundation) to your growth, your omnichannel presence will only continue to thrive.
Cheryl Elizaga is a Brand Strategist and Copywriter with nearly a decade of experience catalyzing meaningful, measurable action for Fortune 100 companies and industry pioneers alike. A contributing author to the Miva Blog, Cheryl helps ecommerce companies own their brand and harness the tools and technology of the leading Miva platform to drive growth.