Five Lessons Small Businesses Can Learn From Amazon

By on April 3, 2013

When Amazon offered its Kindle at $79 in 2011, the online retailer lost $5 every time they sold one. This may seem like a poor strategy, but the millions of sales the company would make through those Kindles made the loss worthwhile. This strategy, along with many others, paid off and shows that Amazon does things right as it’s grown to be the largest online retailer in the world. By learning from Amazon’s success, your small business can get its own piece of the online marketplace.

Change your Shipping Strategy

Shipping is expensive, but it also drives customers away. If your shipping costs are too high, people will look for someone else to shop with until they find a company that offers free shipping. What’s the solution to this? Find a way to offer free shipping.

Amazon did this with their $25 Super Save Shipping program. If a customer purchases $25 worth of product from Amazon, the shipping is free. This can cut profits initially, but the long-term benefit of loyal customers who come to your business first is worth the investment.

Site Structure Matters

Amazon has a straightforward layout that consumers understand. The search bar is visible and the category layouts make sense. Consumers can find what they need with minimal effort when shopping at Amazon.

Your site is your storefront to an online buyer. That online buyer may never set foot in your brick-and-mortar store, so the image you put forth is vital to your success. Create a site that holds the consumer’s attention and provokes them to take action. If, like Amazon, you can create a site that has logical navigation and a straightforward, uncluttered design, and you’ll find greater success.

Your Store Should Always Be On

The Internet is open 24/7 and your site needs to be as well. Have you ever logged on to Amazon.com and found it down? While it may have happened a few times, it’s not very common. Yet many small businesses struggle to keep their sites up and running, because they have poor web hosting. Choose a reliable Web host for your business that offers good support, and your site will also be a reliable one that customers can count on when they need it.

Don’t Fear Experiments or Failure

Amazon’s Prime membership offer was an experiment, and one that’s worked well for the online retail giant. It’s just one of hundreds of experiments the company tried. Many times the company experimented and failed. They experimented with television advertising, which didn’t prove to be cost-effective. They experimented with the Amazon PayPhrase, something consumers simply didn’t connect with. Experimenting will help you find what works, and what doesn’t work, for your specific customers.

Be Customer-Centered

Have you ever tried to return something you bought on Amazon? The process is one of the simplest found online. Have you ever contacted Amazon support? The experience was likely a positive one. Amazon is customer-centric, and this has built loyalty among its customer base. If you can follow suit, you’ll see greater loyalty with your customers.

Amazon has grown from selling books out of Jeff Bezos’s garage to a site bringing in $34 billion a year in revenue, making it the biggest online retailer in the world. All of this happened because the company has done several things right. By mimicking these successes, you’ll grow a successful online business as well.

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