Lessons from Amazon You Should Apply to Your Business

Whether you like it or not, the mega-retailer is influencing your customers. Its search and suggestions are impacting buyer expectations. Their insanely speedy delivery (especially in urban areas and locations where they have warehouses) has now made it easier to order online and have it delivered than it is to go and pick it up.

With Amazon, it’s a love-hate relationship.

And if you’re in competition with them, we already know which side of that argument you are probably on.

But still…

There are things you can learn from the retail giant.

We don’t all have the pockets and employee base of Amazon, but you can still apply some of their offerings to your business for lucrative effect. Amazon:

Never Leaves the Customer Wondering “What’s New?”

If you are one of the many Alexa owners, you probably get a weekly email from Amazon with cool things to try on your Alexa. This email is easily scannable and assists customers in getting the most out of their product.

Notice that Amazon didn’t create a benefits list and put it in the packaging. They know people don’t read that kind of stuff. Instead, they use drip marketing to keep customers engaged and talking about the product. That way, they’ll also tell their friends about it.

You can do the same thing for your business (though it needn’t be weekly).

Doesn’t Charge for Shipping

While you may not be able to afford to offer free shipping to all your customers, you can establish low minimums like “free shipping over $25.” Customers would rather buy more and get free shipping than pay for shipping.

So, what’s the harm? Drop your shipping charges.

If you absolutely hate losing money on shipping (chances are you aren’t charging much more than what it costs anyway), it’s better to increase the price of something slightly to cover the shipping than it is to add $15 onto the cost once the product is in your customer’s online shopping cart. In fact, shipping costs are one of the main reasons people abandon products in their carts.

Makes Buying Suggestions

A lot of e-commerce platforms and shopping cart software give you a suggestion feature and you should use it. Suggested merchandise based on what’s currently in the cart, what’s being viewed, or what has been purchased in the past by either you or customers like you is a solid way to get people to spend more.

If it wasn’t, Amazon wouldn’t do it.

One thing you should consider implementing right away is making “peas and carrots” suggestions. Many companies show customers looking at items such as sweaters other sweaters.

But you don’t have to.

Instead, you could add additional cool weather options like boots, scarves, or gloves. If they’re buying a sweater, maybe they need other things to help them stay warm and stylish. If you’re selling electronics, always ask if they need batteries or an extra charger.

Purchases are emotional and impulsive and while they may be able to get batteries elsewhere cheaper, convenience is a big motivator. Get the customer when they’re already buying by offering something they really need.

Offers Customer Service Options

It’s difficult to just pick up the phone and get ahold of someone at Amazon. But you can send a call request at the time you’d like, and they call you at your preferred number. No waiting on hold and listening to music you used to think was cool before they stripped all the lyrics out of it and played it on the synthesizer. They also offer email solutions and chat.

They leave it completely up to the customer and customers appreciate that.

Speaking of help, Amazon also does an excellent job of encouraging reviews of its products and its other merchants. It even allows its merchants to contact recent customers via email, so they can request a review and be of help.

You should consider ways in which you can improve the number of reviews you and your product/services receive because people pay attention to them. Even reviews written by strangers, influence buying decisions for a sizable percentage of the population.

It’s hard to compete with a mega giant like Amazon. Even Walmart finds it difficult. There are lessons you can take from it though.

Just remember, if you can’t beat them you can always join them. Amazon has a lot of small business sellers they work with.

Finally, the one thing Amazon can’t provide, no matter how hard it tries, is a smiling face at the end of a transaction or the added worth someone who knows their craft or business brings to the sale. Implement these few lessons and look for ways where those in-person transactions can become even more valuable.

We can show you how to make that personal connection in a way that becomes more meaningful to your customers.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, and AssociationTech. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.