Can Retailers Still Compete Against Amazon? 5 Amazon Innovations You Can Copy

Amazon Prime Day was just a day ago and headlines are already reporting the online retailer broke all records for online shopping.

It has been a big summer for the King of Online Retail.

Amazon recently announced the acquisition of speciality grocer Whole Foods. As the news broke at the end of June, the headlines were ominous.

Speculation has abounded for years. Groceries seemed to be the final frontier of online shopping.

Is this acquisition the final death toll for retail?

One could argue differently. Perhaps this is Amazon’s acknowledgement that a retail presence is necessary for growth. According to Business Insider, despite Amazon owning 43% of online sales, 90% of retail purchases still occur within a physical retail store.

As the experts debate the latest move in the ecommerce revolution spurred on by Jeff Bezos’ imagination and determination, we go back to this: Even the most hardened bookworms have accepted downloading an e-book is undeniably faster and easier than lugging around a hardback. “I just love the feel of a book in my hands” just hasn’t held up.

So while you can’t imagine a world where you don’t personally choose each and every apple, think again.

The good news for retailers?

The Toy & Game industry has been under fire from Amazon for over a decade. And brick and mortar retailers are still thriving.

Has it been a painful adjustment? For some. Others have hit the ground running and embraced the necessary evolution, because competing against Amazon does require some strategic and tactical adjustments.

Interestingly enough, many of these adjustments mimic the tactics of Amazon itself. By re-creating their innovative techniques in brick and mortars, retailers have the ability to create a safe and profitable slice of the pie.

The Value of Data

What does Amazon do better than anyone? They know you. Using predictive data, they can accurately pinpoint your future buying needs and present them to you as you browse. By tracking purchases and responding to them with the latest updates, add-ons and incremental products, Amazon keeps their customers happy and gets more money out of every purchase.

Here’s an example.

During the height of the 2015/2016 Shopkins craze, moms across the nation were loading up the latest editions for every birthday party their child was invited to. Amazon pinpointed those Shopkins crazed Moms and made sure to load the latest editions and pre-order availability at the top of each and every page.

Knowing your customers purchase history, anticipating their needs and then aligning your advertising and inventory to trigger a repeat purchase is something any retailer can do with a simple investment of time and money.

Interestingly enough, one of the key components of the Whole Foods acquisition is Amazon’s newfound ability to source incredibly valuable retail buying data. Retail Industry analysts believe offline shopping behavior data could be the driving force behind the acquisition.

And that means click and mortar retailers have had a key advantage all along. Which brings us to the next example.

The Customer Experience

How often is an Amazon box on your doorstep when you return from work at the end of the day?

Amazon knows fast shipping, intuitive search tools and product suggestions make the convenience of shopping at Amazon irresistible.

Toy & Game retailers may not be able to match the speed and efficiency of free overnight delivery but they can match Amazon’s customer experience by providing a streamlined online experience.

Focus on Two Goals for Improving Your Ecommerce Solution

1. Offer the latest video games and toys as quickly as possible and present them to customers in a clean and understandable template.

2. Create an easy customer path to purchase in-stores and online. Making sure inventory is stocked, price correctly and able to put loaded into a virtual or physical cart at any given moment.

But remember, there is very little that can be done online to match the power of a true hands-on experience. Feeling, tasting touching and playing the latest game publications or toy launches are the most important aspect in the purchase decision.

The customer experience retailers includes free demo days, video marketing in-store, sampling, and available toys for kids and parents to try out for themselves.

Retailers in the toy and game industry understand the value of a hands on customer experience and so does Amazon, hence the purchase of Whole Foods. Toy & Game retailers with a click and brick presence are already one step ahead of Amazon.

Membership Has Its Privileges

Prime makes it almost too easy. It’s addictive and fast. At the end of the day any busy individual is going to opt for Prime over another trip to the store. A Prime membership locks in customer loyalty and toy industry ecommerce managers and marketers have the ability to mimic this incredibly important sales tool: Loyalty.

As it turns out, you know what people like as much, if not more, than free delivery?

A great rewards program.

Take a look at this article that debates which rewards program gamers prefer more. Discounts, Selection, Availability and Extras all top the list of rewards these loyal gamers look for.

Retailers in the Toy & Game industry can reproduce rewards programs that are just as valuable to members and build loyalty that keeps customers coming back, time and after time.

Take some time to get to know your customers and find out what they value.

For a small toy store, perks such as free gift wrap may top the list. Consider adding this and these other possibilities to your Rewards Program to drive sales and secure your place in the market:

  • Free Delivery
  • Buy Back Programs
  • Frequent Shopper Discounts
  • Early Buy Notification
  • Customer “Wish Lists”
  • Free Toy Personalization

One small toy store we know had a unique idea which mimics Amazon’s Registry tool.

Offer Birthday Party “buckets” where children with upcoming birthday parties load up an in-store shopping cart. Hosts simply let the guests know where to shop. Not only does this improve the customer experience by limiting repeat gifts and returns, but it brings new customers into the store.

Speed & Accuracy

In the first segment of this article we discussed the importance of customer data as a tool you can use to sell more. However, there is another side to the data story; which is on the product side of retailing.

What’s the number one complaint of online shoppers that have an unsatisfactory experience?

When the product doesn’t match the description.

Any glimpse at an Amazon product landing page will convey the importance of this data to customers.

Online and in-store customers want to know the ins and outs of the product they are purchasing. Not having it available or getting it wrong undermines your expertise, a key strength of click and mortar game stores.

Getting it right is only half the battle.

What’s the number one complaint of store managers, ecommerce planners and digital marketers?

The amount of time and hassle required to keep product data updated.

Retailers have to be able to receive and load this data quickly but without a streamlined system, most of that work is manual.

If you’re tired from sleepless nights spent updating product sheets and aligning inventory and marketing, it’s time to take a lesson from Amazon.

Did you really think they were manually doing this time consuming work? Nope. It’s all automated. And thanks to technological innovations, even SMB companies can take advantage of the ability to automate data delivery.

Streamlined Data Content Platforms now deliver almost real-time updates directly to ecommerce sites, directly from the publishers.

So skip the spreadsheet management and data entry and move to a platform that can not only save you time and money but also deliver top notch data and drive more sales.

Ramp Up Digital & In-Store Marketing

Amazon has embraced every aspect of digital marketing. And right now, nothing is bigger in digital marketing than Content. Specifically, video marketing.

Go to the video game pages on Amazon and you’ll find a plethora of content designed to achieve three goals:

  1. Keep Customers on the Page
  2. Increase Sales
  3. Drive Interest in New Game Publications

Beyond that, recent studies show that including a video on your landing pages can increase your ability to be ranked on Page 1 by 53%.

And remember that Shopkins craze we referenced earlier? It’s widely accepted that video marketing drove the demand. Check out their website and you’ll see just how important video marketing is to the toy brand.

Video marketing a win-win for Game & Toy retailers.

But while a huge trend for digital marketers and proven conversion tool, video marketing remains one of the most expensive marketing tools.

And we don’t all have the marketing budget of major ecommerce retailers.

What’s the solution to digital markets that recognize the value of in-store and online video but don’t have a huge budget or the right in-house expertise?

A retail content platform. Amazon is known for its efficiency. Retailers can match this by turning from internal content creation to a platform that delivers video advertising and marketing content directly to your store and website. Not only is it timely and better than what many toy and game retailers can create themselves, the expense is much more palatable.

Not to mention the savings extracted by reducing the workloads of the IT team, Inventory Team and Marketing Team, who can focus instead on much more valuable projects.

The Bottom Line for Retailers That Compete Against Amazon

Amazon is here to stay. The good news is many retailers already have some very valuable intrinsic strengths that when embraced, can be used to create a comfortable space in in the marketplace.

And when it comes to everything else, learn from the competition. Embrace the use of data along with technological platforms that will streamline your inventory, data quality and marketing.

At Cedemo we make it our business to simplify the lives of our customers by providing streamlined data and video marketing to retailers in the Toy & Game Industry. Learn more or sign up for a free trial of the Cedemo Retail Content Platform to learn first hand what we can do for your toy or game business.