3 Ways Retailers Can Be Frenemies With Amazon

Nanette George, Senior Product Marketing Analyst

Nanette George, Senior Product Marketing Analyst

Author Bio

Nanette connects great companies with smart solutions. A trained journalist, she shares information that engages brands meaningfully with technology they’ve purchased, so they can achieve higher ROI. With more than 20 years of experience in strategic communications, technology marketing, product launches and events, Nanette is Bronto’s senior product marketing analyst.

To consumers, Amazon is a low-price one-stop online shop. For retailers, it’s their biggest rival. Amazon, which began as an online bookseller, is now an ecommerce giant that many omnichannel merchants say is threatening the success of their business.

Many retailers sell their products on Amazon because they feel they don’t have any other choice. Forrester estimates 55% of consumers use Amazon for product research, so they worry they’ll miss out if they don’t have a presence on the site.

If your brand sells its products on Amazon, try these three strategies to turn Amazon from a rival into a frenemy:

1. Offer a connection to your brand and a deal for the shopper.

Get creative about reaching customers who purchase items you list on Amazon. Prepare and ship your own orders to maintain control of the experience they have with your brand.

One Bronto user connected with customers by adding a message to their Amazon shipments, a simple card with a landing page URL. Customers who visited the page could sign up for email updates in exchange for a one-time discount for purchases on the brand’s website.

If you use this approach, be sure to add a welcome series for new subscribers who come to your site via that landing page. Then, segment those customers for future communications. Conduct A/B split tests on your messaging, and experiment with special offers that would be attractive to customers who came to you via Amazon. If you find they’re more motivated by lower prices, for example, create regular communication with that segment about overstocked inventory or flash sales.

2. Personalize your communication.

Amazon isn’t known for great communication with its customers, so smaller omnichannel merchants can really shine with personalized messages. Start by using your marketing automation platform to segment customers based on their shopping behaviors.

Tarte Cosmetics segments contacts and builds triggered campaigns to capture the most relevant audience for each message. It also offers unique discount codes for customers’ birthdays. If there’s something that might be of interest to its customers, Tarte’s Digital Marketing Director Stephanie Urban will work it into an email.

“Even if we are having a site-wide sale, we might send a shopper an email about mascara because we know she bought that in the past. She’s much more likely to open if you’re speaking to her directly rather than just bulk-mailing promotional information,” Urban says.

3. Price products strategically.

This is how Amazon got its start, by offering lower prices on books than brick-and-mortar bookstores. Walmart also took a similar approach, pricing lower on staples, such as milk and bread, and stocking them around the perimeter of the store, leading customers to believe that prices on other items were lower, too.

Here’s a more customer-centric approach: Reserve your best pricing and promotions for the items most frequently searched for on your website. Use your marketing automation platform to personalize recommendations so you control the products that are offered in messages to customers. For example, limit recommendations to your highest-margin products or overstocked inventory.

If you’re really frustrated with Amazon, you can always pull your inventory. That’s what Birkenstock did when it stopped selling its shoes and sandals on Amazon this month in response to a growing number of counterfeit versions of its products and unauthorized sellers on the site.

Or you can best Amazon using your greatest strengths. Amazon achieved its success by introducing consumers to the convenience of online shopping, and all retailers benefit from that. But you can delight customers with personalized communication, promotions on the items they love, and just-in-time messages that show them that your brand understands their needs and values their business. Take the time to connect with your customers about what really matters to them. Your efforts are sure to get your brand noticed.