I have a confession: I think Amazon can teach us something.
While I lead a fight to stop Amazon, I believe we can learn something by watching its massive growth.
We first have to accept this fact. Ready for it?
Here it is: you're in the software business.
Retail is becoming a software business for a few reasons, including:
It’s easier to shop on your mobile vs. drive to the store. Proof: mobile sales are up 40% year over year. Indie stores have to close each night. Amazon is always open 24/7 in the customer's pocket.
You can search tens of thousands and even millions of items online. A physical store is just too small compared to Amazon's 550 million products.
You can not only search millions of products online, but the software will likely help you make the best purchasing decision. Amazon and major retailers’ software has artificial intelligence to show you the most popular items, the ones with the best reviews, etc. In essence, the software tells you what the best item is for you. Thank you, Alexa.
Amazon is a software company. Sure, it’s in the retail space, but it’s at its heart software that is used for retail transactions. It’s most valuable resource is its code base and online, digital platform.
Now, ask yourself—based upon the above, how are indie stores going to compete in this retail-software environment when indie stores often:
- Have little or no selection online.
- Don’t have the software to show customers ‘smart’ search results.
- Don't offer competitive shipping prices online.
- Check email once or twice a day.
On top of the software and tech issues, indies often don’t offer the lowest product prices.
At the end of the day, even if indie store can keep their doors open, they won’t succeed and grow. They will just survive and exist much like Rochester, NY, and be left behind from the last era. That's a crummy existence.
How do we prevent indie stores from being left behind in the ‘digital rust belt’?
Here are five software strategies that indies stores should be pursuing:
5 Software Steps Indie Stores Can Take to Succeed vs. Amazon:
1. Offer BIGGER Selection Online:
Find solutions to offer thousands of products online. One reason Amazon wins is it has 550 million products. What services can a store use to better compete and quickly show 1,000s of products online? If a store doesn't already use it, we recommend trying Bridge's Smart Products.
2. Use Smarter Software:
Find e-commerce software that offers shoppers the same search results accuracy as Amazon. Amazon spent billions over 20 years to build its software. It will take an indie store years to get up to speed. For 10 years, Bridge has been developing software for its retailers. Each day our team of programers tweaks and improves the software for our 100s of retailers to make it smarter.
3. Accept Smaller Margins Online--Be Ready to 'Lose' to Win:
Amazon has thin margins. It uses software to crawl websites and ensure it has the lowest prices. It also offers free shipping. To compete, indie stores will have to accept smaller margins and find ways to match them. Indie stores can offer online 'money losing' free shipping and free local delivery. But it's not really money losing. Why? If the indie doesn't get the sale, Amazon wins and then the store TRULY loses money. Short of burning down Amazon's Seattle office, indies may do whatever it takes to get their local customer to buy from them online vs Amazon.
4. Speed Up Delivery for Online Orders:
Two-day shipping is now the industry standard for service. This will require new in-store procedures--and as well as tech. When an order comes in, a store will likely need to have text messages sent to the manager's mobile phone in order to more quickly respond to orders. I know a few stores that still just check their email at lunch--that is handing customers to Amazon.
5. Team Up:
Join a collective, guild, or group that is able to pool digital resources. Reason: no indie store can do all of the above on its own nor afford it. What group can you join to pool resources and software? Bridge offers retailers a group whereby they can share software and strategy.
We know that store owners didn't get into retail in order to "sit in front of a computer all day," but when 90% of consumers shop online it's time to take a big leap forward together. View software as: an opportunity.
Making this change today will make our stores better tomorrow.
To get started, we invite you and your business friends to join us on Bridge.
September 24, 2018