The Grapevine

Making Brick & Mortar Matter in an Amazon Age

December 20th, 2016

You may feel you don’t stand a chance in an era of online behemoths, but there are advantages to being small, nimble and personal. [level-members]

First, you have to think strategically. You’re not going to beat a bigger opponent at their own game. You need to concentrate on the areas where they are weak. Location counts – and for more than just convenient parking. It can foster partnerships with other local retailers. Put together a party package for the holidays – wine from your shop, cheese from the local specialty foods store, fruits from the green grocer … you get the idea. It’s an interesting idea and one that a big box is not likely to try. They simply can’t coordinate it logistically.

Second, not attacking them directly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t steal the occasional play from their playbook. Customer data, for example, is too valuable to leave to the big guys. No, you won’t be able to A/B test iterations of your website to thousands of customers an hour. But you can create databases of clients, their interests, and their buying habits. That gives you the ability to stay in touch when it will be helpful to them – rather than them feeling like you’re just pestering them to increase your sales.

You might even consider some high-tech toys like the big boys use – geofencing and mobile alerts for customers in the area. Just be smarter about them than the average corporation is and use them sparingly, with permission, and only for customers who are open to the idea.