5 advantages independents have over Amazon

Some articles suggest Amazon is the death of small and independent retailers, while others say there is nothing to be concerned about. Whatever your opinion is of the future, there is no doubt that the face of Australian Retail will change, just as other markets have, with Amazon’s arrival in Australia in the near future.

Here at Lightspeed, we strongly believe in the power, passion and potential of independent retailers. We talk to owners and employees of these businesses each and every day, and it’s great to see independents getting creative and adapting their business to suit their market. Here are a few things independent retailers can do, that Amazon simply can’t.

1. Location. You have a space, so get creative.

Your brick-and-mortar retail space can be so much more than just a large closet of products. See it as an experiential space. Something we see more and more here in Australia is retailers incorporating one of our biggest loves…coffee! Get some people in the door with a small cafe or specialty treats. Can you run workshops after hours? Could you hold events related to your industry? Think of unique ways in which you can improve the customer experience. Read our blog post to learn how a web store adds more value to your brick-and-mortar retail space.

Inside retail store

2. Get personal. Put a face to your brand, online.

Unlike Amazon, you’re not a faceless giant. A simple but effective ‘About Us’ page on your web shop is a great way for customers to connect with your brand. To go the extra mile, add a video to your web store or social media featuring your employees talking about your product. Remember, it is not just about the product you’re selling but the people selling it.

woman typing on Apple laptop

3. Product knowledge. You have experience, share it.

This can vary depending on the exact industry that you’re in, but it’s important to remember that product knowledge can go far beyond the in-store conversation. There are so many channels of communication these days, share your expertise through as many as possible. This could be anything from a blog that is pushed out through your newsletter, to a paid instagram video that demonstrates the benefits of your product.

customer education in retail store

4. Community. You have locals, get them involved.

In the same vein as leveraging your physical location, you can bring your community together. See your business as more than just a walk-in-walk-out experience. One of our great customers in Sydney, Two Monkeys Cycling, hold regular cycle sessions with their customers. This is an amazing way to build loyalty and it helps to get to know your customers on a more personal level.

If you’re not in an ‘active’ industry like cycling, perhaps it is about encouraging your community to be socially responsible. Can you work with local charities or provide workplace training to young people? All of these initiatives need to be communicated to your customers. Millennials in particular prefer to purchase from places where they know their money is going deeper than the owner’s pocket.

Community members planting together

5. Agility. You can be nimble, you can be quick.

One of the most frustrating things about having a business get larger is that it takes longer to implement new ideas or make changes. This is due to anything from the impact it has on customers, the amount of internal sign offs or even the amount of research needed due to the breadth of their offering. When you are an independent, often these barriers do not exist. Use this to your advantage. Don’t let the ‘too busy bug’ get in the way, but instead get on top of it and give it a try. Want to start a social media campaign? Do it! Want to set up a loyalty program? Let’s go!

walking up steps in running shoes

Most importantly in all of this, believe in the value your business can provide. If you don’t see the value you offer, how will your customers? So with the arrival of Amazon to Australia, take heart in knowing that for all they offer, you can offer so much more.

Ace Bevacqua

Ace Bevacqua

Ace is the Manager for Australia and New Zealand at Lightspeed. Being a self-professed coffee snob, there is not much else he likes to do than going to good cafe with his wife and their dog by their side. For those who care, his dog is a Staffy called Lou.