The Arrival of Amazon (Part Three)

The Arrival of Amazon (Part Three)

Published 10.12.2017

Swedish retail-sites are buzzing with excitement. Rumors have it that Amazon is setting up in Sweden. They have acquired and reportedly bought real estate in central locations such as Eskilstuna, Västerås and Katrineholm. Swedish retail giant IKEA is testing Amazon as a platform for furniture sales. No wonder Scandinavian retailers are troubled. Should they be worried?

Article authors

Camilla Hetty Osa Magnus Bakken

In this article series we are looking into the Amazon Syndrome: The fear and consequence of being drabbed.

If we are correct – all is not lost for Scandinavian digital commerce. The fact that Amazon is on its way should worry you though, and you need to look for tools to fight off the giant. Below we have described four different approaches that you should explore before you get “Amazoned”:

1. Provide your customers with outstanding product descriptions
Depending on the type of products you sell (whether these are low-margin and generic or low volume and differentiated), you should focus on product descriptions online. Not only written descriptions. Think creatively, take outstanding images and videos, use and display attributes in various ways and – last but not least tell the story behind the product and how it is produced. Know and love your products.

2. You don’t get inspiration in a search box or a filter
Research from Cowen and Company proved that one of the things that people found most difficult on Amazon, is finding the right product. For specialty products, curated items or complicated products, Amazon does not provide an excellent service. Users who don’t know exactly what they are looking for, reports on difficulties in finding the right product. By finding ways to guide your customers in the direction of that one product, you may be able to snag a few under the eyes of Amazon.

3. Play the long tail of the internet on your own – and with Google
The share range of products at is both a good and bad. Remember that customers come to Amazon for the ease of shopping and for price. The disadvantage of all products being exhibited at the same place is that products may “drown” in all the noise. One way of distancing yourself from Amazon is to go for the straight and narrow. Use content marketing and focus on long-tail keywords that will attract a specific type of customer. Here Google is your friend.

4. Use your physical locations smartly
Until recently, Amazon did not have ANY stores. And most likely, they will have none in the Nordic market when they launch. With more than 80% of all sales still being brick-and-mortar, you may have an advantage not easily copied – both in the overall customer experience and in shipping. This however comes with a warning: There can be NO silos. Actually, you should not have channels at all. There is no e-commerc, just commerce if you choose to play this game. Offline experiences and empowered in-store personnel is key. There has to be a “want to visit”.

5. Build a fan-base of loyal customers with your product
We all know how the Amazon website looks like. If you want to buy a pair of trousers or a new charger for your phone, the experience is the same. Although this is good, it does not necessarily build a fan base for the brand. If you have products with certain characteristics – like a GoPro camera or an iPhone – you may be able to create value adding services around your products that gather a “tribe” of contributors to the brand and product. This requires a strong focus on community building and user inclusion in brand building.

6. Provide the best customer service ever
Have you ever heard the sentence - " I just love the Amazon customer service"? No? Well, what if you google “Zappo customer service”? Now – find stories of how a Zappo worker boarded a plane to hand over jewelry that had been mistakenly sent to return to Zappo, and another one on how Zappo sent flowers when they found out that a customers of theirs was sick, and how their longest customer service call was 10 hours and 29 minutes! Customers who experience great service will return. And return business is better business.

These are only a few ways in which you could beat Amazon in your market. Continue to play the game as you always have and you will probably do down fairly quickly. Stay agile and make smart moves and you will still be a round for all twelve rounds.