Fighting Amazon; What Small E-Commerce Providers Are Doing?

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In my last posting, “Amazon and the Small Retailer” I wrote about the challenges being faced by small ecommerce providers.  They fight a similar fight with Amazon that bricks and mortar specialty retailers fight with Wal-Mart.  Might there be a commonality of interests between the two channels of trade?  Shouldn’t they be talking to each other?

According to The New York Times, small ecommerce providers feel overwhelmed by Amazon and its ability to provide apps, deep discounts and free shipping.  In fact, sometimes Amazon prices below cost.  Sound familiar?

In a time when many bricks and mortar providers are opening ecommerce sites, it may be time to take a look at how internet and bricks and mortar companies see each other.  Perhaps it’s time for more cooperation and coordination.

In order to help move the dialogue forward I have listed some of the things that, according to The New York Times article, “Rooting for the Little Guy,” small ecommerce and hybrid retailers are doing to fight back against Amazon.  Some are familiar, some may not be so:

  • Some small ecommerce providers are refusing to carry products that are carried by Amazon.  They just don’t want to be embarrassed (sound familiar?).

  • Others are asking for different brand names to be put on products in order to foil apps that do pricing comparisons.
  • One retailer, Lesley Tweedie, that she has started a “Buy It Where You Try It” campaign to foil those who use her store as a showroom for internet shopping.
  • I found it interesting that “Powell’s Books offers a subscription service through which it chooses a new book and includes an extra item like a related book or candy — personalized touches that it says big sites can’t match.”  
  • And how about, a website that features independent stores of all types; kind of a virtual mall.

If you are a bricks and mortar retailer, tell us how you feel about your ecommerce competition.  Are you sympathetic to the smaller guys?  If you are a small ecommerce provider, how do you feel about bricks and mortar specialty retailers; are they friend or foe?





2 thoughts

  1. I agree with that overall…but that’s a bit of a cop-out for manufacturers. Surely they could just buy some of their product though any retail channel (ebay, Amazon or whereever) and trace it back (via seriel / batch numbers) to who they had supplied it to. They could then quickly establish a pattern and take any action they felt was appropriate.
    Of course there are legal issues here too, and it can be very hard for a manufacturer to legally enforce where a product is sold and at what price. Other industries seem to manage it though (you don’t see Chanel perfume on sale for £9.99 on ebay do you!?) so I’m sure they could be doing better.
    It’s in everyone’s interest in the long run to have a varied and vibrant retail sector (online and bricks&mortar). Amazon & co are not going away so we need to clever and find ways to trade profitably with or around them. Things are never as bleak or obvious as they seem. Often it’s just a case of re-inventing ourselves for the new reality!

  2. I am a third party seller on Amazon. I owned two brick and mortar stores for ten years before transitioning to internet only in 2009.
    The culprit here isn’t JUST Amazon, it’s the other stores who probably never struggled with brick and mortar issues who have no warehouse and feel that they need to only make pennies on an item. Those sellers kill us ALL. And sadly, many manufacturers can’t even find them to enforce MAP pricing because they operate under a different name there than what they buy under. Shady sellers are the bad guys, not necessarily Amazon themselves.

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