Just as a character in a folk tale might do, giants should be approached with caution. Amazon is a giant of e-commerce and not necessarily a friend of small business.
A survey by Lendio found that 2 out of 3 small business owners felt that big corporations like Amazon and Google have a negative impact on their growth opportunities.
The company that started out as an online bookseller now has its fingers in every business imaginable. It’s also lobbied for laws that would require small businesses to collect sales tax in every state. There is no doubt that it’s a polarizing business whose impact is hard to escape.
But whatever your feelings about Amazon, like the fabled giants, they shouldn’t be ignored out of fear or ignorance.
Instead of viewing them solely as the competitive enemy, it would be more helpful to look at them as one of many potential media channels for your e-commerce marketing strategy.
In marketing this is known as the Parthenon principle. The more pillars you have to support your marketing efforts, the safer you are against competition big or small. If you have ten pillars and one is knocked out, your building still stands. If you have only two or three pillars and lose one, you’re in trouble. And if you have one marketing pillar to support your business, it can put you out of business.
Example of the marketing Parthenon concept
For example, I’ve talked to small business owners who based their entire sales operation on Amazon. One of them received a few bad reviews on a product in their primary product line. It turned out the review was fraudulent (from a competitor!) but the damage had been done. Sales dropped considerably and it took weeks of effort to fix the review. Substantial revenues were lost and the online store never quite recovered to the same level.
That’s the danger of having one way to sell your products, especially if you don’t own the platform on which you’re selling. It’s vital to always be adding pillars to your marketing Parthenon. And it’s essential to own as many of those channels as possible.
Nevertheless, with a bit of cautious research, giants like Amazon and Google offer opportunities for the little business owner and solopreneur.
60% of small business e-commerce sites get more than half their online sales by selling on sites like Amazon. And by 2021 it's estimated that 1 in 10 digital ad dollars will go to Amazon, in part because its effectiveness can’t be denied.
Just as internet giant Google can be used to promote your business via Google Ads and YouTube ads, so too can Amazon come to your aid. Last year 46.7% of US internet shoppers started their product search on Amazon versus 34.6% who started on Google. It’s a force to be reckoned with and there are many ways to do it.
Is Amazon the Right Marketing Channel for My Small Business?
You can feature your products and your brand and even create a multi-page e-commerce site on Amazon.
The infographic below from our colleagues at BusinessFinancing.co.uk goes into more detail and includes:
- Types of advertising accounts available
- 7 tips on how to set up your Amazon ad campaigns
- 5 tips on setting up an Amazon store
- 3 ways to get the most from your Amazon ads
- How to advertise and sell digital as well as physical products
It’s a good intro to get you thinking about the possibility of Amazon as a new marketing channel or as an alternate host for an online store.