KEEP YOUR ONLINE STORE, BUT LET AMAZON DO THE WORK.
Manufacturers in the natural foods/natural products arena are looking at the same issues– especially those who have a robust online store of their own. How much should you invest in your online store, and how does Amazon affect your business?
Reality: Your own products are already being sold in multiple places on Amazon, and probably for less than you’re charging.
SO, SHOULD YOU KEEP YOUR ONLINE OPERATION OR NOT?
I’m not suggesting that you get rid of your online store. In fact, I’m saying maybe you should improve some aspects of your home website: Better company storyline, better product photography, better descriptions, better design. Your entrenched customers may love visiting the source, knowing who and what they’re supporting, etc. But chances are excellent that before hitting the BUY button, they’re typing your product name into the Search bar. Consider educating them about your products and then letting them go to Amazon (and the other large online retailers) for a smooth shopping experience.
AMAZON CAN DO IT BETTER, AND HERE’S WHY:
- Mobile is here to stay, and that’s where the growth in sales will be.
Tough question: Have you tried using your website on a cellphone, as if you were a brand new customer? How does it compare to searching for and buying something the Amazon way, with One Touch? Picture how much time and money you might have to spend on optimization so that your website will look as good on a phone–or all the other devices people use.
- A vastly bigger customer universe, sent via the Search bar.
In fact, you could call Amazon the best search engine in the world. Type in almost any product name you can think of and see what happens. It’s estimated that 250M people had their credit cards on file last year, with at least 10M Prime users. Amazon isn’t getting any smaller.
- Customers like shopping on Amazon better. Track your baskets.
Are sales on your website flatlining compared to those from a few years ago? Track the shopping baskets on your website that people start and don’t finish. I’m willing to bet that there are quite a few. Yes, your loyalists are there, what about the others? They’re almost certainly jumping to Amazon to finish the sale. They’re looking for a better price and an easy, fast, fool-proof, familiar shopping experience.
- Potential new customers may not trust you. And they’re in a hurry.
Customers are like me. I hate having to enter my name, shipping addresses, and credit card information into yet another retailer’s site. It takes time and I don’t always trust the process, whereas I do trust Amazon. I don’t care about getting a lower price necessarily–I want my checkout, payment and delivery to happen right away.
- Amazon is faster at getting your stuff out.
At virtually no cost to you, the manufacturer, they’ll have your merchandise in customers’ hands within hours in most places. You save all the individual packing and shipping costs, including tracking and customer service by phone.
- Look at the bottom line.
Your gross margins are key. Add up the cost of running your online business–maintaining the infrastructure, customer service employees, packing, shipping, tracking. What if you could decrease those costs and put the money instead into product design and marketing?
ANY DRAWBACKS IN RELYING ON AMAZON?
- Your customers will see your competitors’ goods. That’s NOT a problem.
Sure, your all-natural moisturizer may appear beside some that your competitors offer. Customers know them already. They’ll choose yours anyway. Then Amazon’s platform will automatically suggest more of your products they should buy.
- You can’t control the product reviews. This is NOT a drawback.
Reviews are written by average people. As a manufacturer, you can’t make claims, but if customers know your pills cured their pet’s arthritis, they’re free to say it. Let their opinions do your selling.
INVEST IN MORE MARKETING THAT WILL MOVE YOUR PRODUCTS.
Before you spend tens of thousands upgrading your online shop and optimizing it for all the new media out there, consider putting more into making your products better and more competitive. Extend your product range. Have some better packaging designed. Use better photography in your product shots. Describe your company story better, using a copywriter. Add some videos to your website, or post them in other places. Try some online advertising. Try a targeted social media campaigns. Activate some PR –maybe sponsorships or live events.
DO I WORK FOR AMAZON OR HAVE SOME KIND OF VESTED INTEREST?
No connection whatsoever. I’m a marketer that likes to see my clients spend money in more fruitful ways.
Amazon isn’t a competitor. Using them can free you for all the things you do best—thinking up and manufacturing great products—while spending less time and money on direct sales, shipping and packaging.
Comments? Thoughts on Amazon vs. your own online store? We’d love to hear about your selling with Amazon versus your own online shop. Share your experiences below.
A SOCIALIKE THOUGHT: WHEN CHANGE IS HAPPENING, DON’T BE THE LAST TO RECOGNIZE IT.
Get in touch if you want to talk. If you’re a manufacturer of any kind of natural food or natural product, call Socialike and hear more of our thinking. We have a growing roster of clients, and we work harder and smarter at getting them lasting business. Put yourself in the universe of social and digital marketing.
Stay tuned for more of our blogs.