Local Business Can Compete with Amazon

Amazon’s $5 Deal

Perhaps you’ve heard the story about Amazon dispatching an army of smartphone wielding shoppers, enticed by $5 and discounts on items.  Shoppers go to local retailers to scan products with Amazon’s Mobile App, see that they get a better deal on Amazon and walk out of the store empty handed and the promise of $5.

I’ve heard phrases such ‘retailers are becoming showrooms for the online marketplace’.

The story though, doesn’t have to be about how Amazon is killing local brick and mortar, it can be about how local brick and mortar can adapt to online competition.

I’m one of those buyers

I’ve done something similar recently, where I went to a local music shop to look at Ukuleles.  The price on Amazon was nearly $15 cheaper.  I went to the owner of the store and presented him with the price and an opportunity to match it, he made a quick phone call to his distributor then turned to me and said, “I just can’t do it, I’m sorry.”

There I was, standing across from the owner and the guys who do the repairs on instruments in a store that has been there for years.  There was the Ukulele in front of me and even though he was certain I would walk away, I laid down my card, bought it and was home and playing in an hour.

I bought it because of the relationship, service after the sale and my desire to have it that day.

Applying Daily Deals Thinking

Another familiar story is the rapid growth of the daily deals industry and t’s industry leader Groupon.

Many Small Businesses have been more than willing to jump on this opportunity, offer a 50% discount, and pay 40% of the sale to Groupon for the promise of increased foot traffic and new customers who will buy more and return later.  This is the key to the success of those promotions.

If this is a successful model for local business, then….

Launch a campaign that takes on the Amazon shoppers directly

Why not use the energy effort and promotional resources of Amazon’s multi-million dollar campaign to your advantage and apply calculations that you’re already considering investing in a daily deal promotion.

As a small business with little to no marketing budget, there is an opportunity to leverage the publicity that this story is getting and swing the doors wide open to the Amazon Scanner Army.

Here’s a sketch:

Announce to the world that you invite all Amazon scanners to your business.  Contact local news outlets who are always hungry for a unique story to get the word out.  This is leveraging the publicity with your own twist.

Welcome the scanners and the foot traffic.

Ask customers to scan whatever items they would like and present it to you for the opportunity to match the price.

Match the price when you can, be honest when you can’t.

Wow them with personal service and provide the instant gratification of getting the product THAT DAY.

Not everyone of those customers will be a win, but neither is the daily deal you’ve been thinking about.

Write a new storyline

We hear it everyday.

“Local Business can’t compete”

“Local Business is dying”

“Your neighbor is losing her job because we shop online”

and my favorite; “Every time you One-click Buy, a puppy dies”

Alright, I made that one up.

There are alternatives.  There are opportunities.  There are new story lines to be written and the first line is:

Local business can compete.