You may not have the funds to build an e-commerce system on the scale of Amazon, but there are several lessons you can learn from them that will help you sell more, online and offline.
Make it easy to buy. Amazon pioneered One Click Ordering, where customers’ shipping and credit card information is stored for future purchases. They make it easy to buy without pulling out your wallet and inputting a lot of data. Can you set up accounts or keep customer billing information available so they can buy with a phone call or a signature?
Get others to sell for you. Amazon.com Associates was the first online affiliate program. Associates link from their Web sites to Amazon.com, and they are paid commissions for the sales they refer. Today, more than 900,000 Web sites send customers to Amazon.com. You can implement your own affiliate program with inexpensive software, or by using one of many services that will administer your program for you. Offline, reward customers who send new business your way with free products or services.
Show related products. While shopping at Amazon, you will see suggestions such as “Customers who bought this item also bought . . . " Make displays of related products in your retail location, group products and accessories in your catalog, and list product suggestions on Web pages.
Provide customized information. Amazon remembers what you buy and even the products for which you have shopped. Your shopping habits are used to provide personalized recommendations when you arrive at Amazon.com. You may be able to use features in your online shopping cart to make upsells based on the item purchased. Send e-mails or postcards to customers who bought certain products when you have a new product or service that might interest them.
Encourage the growth of community. Customers can post reviews to any product page on Amazon.com. Want to recommend a favorite product, or warn others about a dud? Post a review. Although the system isn’t perfect, you can get a lot of good information from customer reviews, and the availability of this information encourages customers to shop at Amazon. A user group or online forum can make customers feel a part of your community.
Do what you do best. If you visit Borders.com, you will discover that it is run by Amazon.com. Borders decided that they did not want to reinvent the wheel when it came to e-commerce, and turned over their Web site to Amazon so they could focus on their brick and mortar stores. You can learn from both sides of this relationship. If something doesn’t fit with your core business, outsource it. If there is something you do very well, consider offering the service to others, even your competitors. Everyone wins.
Although you may not (yet) be a giant, you can learn lessons from the giants such as Amazon.com. Apply them to your business and increase your profits.
Copyright Cathy Stucker. As the IdeaLady, Cathy Stucker helps authors, entrepreneurs and professionals attract customers and make themselves famous. To learn more about marketing and get free marketing tips, visit Cathy at http://www.IdeaLady.com/