Three Lessons All Small Businesses Can Learn From Amazon

Love them or loathe them, you can’t dispute that Amazon is one of the business world’s biggest success stories. At this point, it’s about as far from being a small business as it’s possible to be. Notwithstanding this, however, Amazon does offer some extremely valuable lessons to small businesses. Here are three of the main ones.

There’s a lot to be said for hybrid business models

Amazon has basically followed the opposite trajectory to older businesses. It started out as an ecommerce pure-play. Now it’s establishing real-world retail outlets. There are several possible reasons why Amazon is making this move. Most of these reasons, however, hinge on the fact that real-world stores give it a much better opportunity to make strong connections with customers.

Building these connections may prove crucial to Amazon’s success in certain areas. Clothing is an obvious example of this. Shoppers who see clothes in purely functional terms may be happy enough just to buy online.  

People who are genuinely interested in style, by contrast, often value the experience of shopping for clothes in the real world. On-site, human sales assistants can play a major role in this experience. In addition to being generally helpful, they can often provide styling advice and point out items the person might not otherwise have noticed.

Exclusivity is highly valuable

In its early days, Amazon was simply an online big-box retailer. It’s arguably become the ultimate big-box retailer. Now, however, it’s clearly trying to move away from being a straightforward online supermarket.  

The launch of Amazon Prime video marked the online giant’s first steps into creating exclusive content. This was closely followed by Amazon Handmade, not technically exclusive but certainly not Amazon’s traditional offer. Now Amazon is offering its own range of products under various in-house brands, which it presumably intends to develop.

Amazon has to know that even one compelling and exclusive product provides a strong reason for people to visit your store. The more unique products you have to offer, the more reasons people have to visit you. While they’re at your store, you have the opportunity to upsell, cross-sell and sell add-ons.

You don’t have to be Amazon to develop your own unique products. You do need to have some basic skills in product development and management. These can, however, be learned (280 Group training is a good place to start).

Small changes can make big differences

Even though Amazon is one of the world’s biggest corporations, it still very much sweats the small stuff. In fact, if there’s one defining feature of Amazon’s business practices, it’s the company’s attention to detail. Amazon totally understands that small changes scale up to make big differences.

If you’re a small business, you won’t get as much leverage out of small changes as Amazon does. You will, however, almost certainly get more than enough leverage out of them to justify the effort involved. In general, you should focus your attention on your service. That means anything which directly impacts the customer experience.

Remember, one of the major reasons why Amazon has been so successful is because it genuinely does care about the customer experience. It has always delivered outstanding customer service. This is one lesson small businesses should very definitely take to heart.

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