First, the Good
Amazon is the biggest threat to online retailers in, well, ever. Amazon’s share of the US ecommerce market hit 49%.
To put things in perspective, this is more than Amazon’s top three competitors combined, with eBay coming in at 6.6%, Apple at 3.9%, and Walmart at 3.7% (source).
Amazon has incredible transaction volume. Shoppers purchased more than 100 million products during the Amazon Prime day in 2018 (CNBC, 2018).
But Amazon’s massive size also means they have vulnerabilities.
What Qualifies Us to Write This Article
We (Frictionless Commerce) specialize in conversion optimization, which means online retailers hire us to understand the behavior of their site visitors to improve online experiences. We do this by paying close attention to online buyer psychology.
We’ve been studying Amazon for years. And while they may look intimidating Amazon has some serious vulnerabilities.
What We’ve Learned Observing Amazon
Reason #1 Why Amazon Sucks
Amazon product page layout sucks. There is one Amazon formula and no matter what product you’re looking at (off-brand $12 baby diapers [link] or a $15,615 bracelet [link]) the experience is the same. In school, I remember reading how in the communist Soviet Union schools didn’t have names. They had numbers, like School 12229. This was done so a school with a catchy name wouldn’t stand out. Amazon is a little bit like that. It’s the communist version of capitalism.
Brand search on Amazon sucks:
Search results on Amazon are all about the lowest prices.
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If you are in research mode Amazon isn’t the best method:
Some of the products on Amazon are extremely low quality. I purchased and then quickly donated a video studio setup built using items from Amazon. They were totally low quality and packing and sending them back would cost more in lost productivity than the items themselves. It was a terrible experience.
What Amazon does great is customer service. But, that pillar has an Achilles heel too because once the market starts putting the squeeze on Amazon their “we’ll take things back no questions asked” policy will change. I know it.
10 years ago Apple customer service was beyond amazing. At the time Apple’s market share was big, but not too big. Their growth rate was healthy and so they had the chance to build their team with quality people. Every person I interacted with at Apple customer service was a genuine fan of Apple products. They would look forward to challenging service calls because they wanted to find a solution. In the last 4 years, every time I call someone at Apple I have had a terrible experience. It’s clear the agent has a quota to fill. Look, I get it. All I’m saying is that Amazon will have the same challenges. Oh, and speaking to crappy customer service, Google has got to be the worst.
Moral of the story? Don’t be intimidated by Amazon or any competitor. When I feel stressed it helps to look at this image:
One More: High Prices
Amazon is a world champ at getting us comfortable with a habit. Let me explain.
I’ve bought my water filter on Amazon 6 times (see red marking screenshot).
When I tried to place my routine order today I noticed the price looked different. 2x different.
I’m so used to the Amazon ecosystem I almost didn’t notice the price. But something was off. The price didn’t seem right.
So I did a few searches and found the exact model on Sears for 50% less (after adding shipping).
Is Amazon the World’s best-priced store? Depends on how you define best.
I posted this on LinkedIn and we had a lively discussion.
Oh, One More Thing
So, this just happened. Made a video:
Interested in a secret that almost no one knows about?
Revealing It All
Now that we’ve covered ways in which Amazon sucks it’s time to share how online retailers should be thinking about marketing. If you are directly related to eCommerce this next set of articles is for you. If you aren’t involved with growing sales for an eCommerce brand please share it with someone in your life who is because it will change the trajectory of their growth.
Why Listen to Us?
We’ve spent the last 14 years in our marketing lab, experimenting on online shoppers. We’ve learned a crap ton and are ready to share those learning.
We want more marketers and CEOs to know about it.
Eventually, we’ll make this into a book. If you want to get an unfair advantage over your competitors now is the time to steal our ideas because once they are published the cat will be out of the bag 👜 for all to see.
Each chapter in our forthcoming book will feed into the next. Click the link that best describes where you want to start the story:
Chapter 1: is all about conversation rate optimization (CRO). It talks about the history of CRO, statistics of CRO, and describes how most agencies do CRO. We need to describe how most are doing it before we reveal our process, which happens in Chapter 4.
Chapter 2: For every 1,000 product pitches encountered the shopper buys one item (and we’re being generous). If you want the consumer to choose your product your need to understand their selection criteria– you need to understand their buyer psychology. Marketers who nail this will always outrun their peers.
Chapter 3: Conversion optimization work typically focuses on design and layout changes. We don’t limit ourselves to design and layout. Through extensive experimentation, we realized that the thing that moves the conversion needle 🧭 are the words and ideas being expressed on the page. Therefore, conversion copywriting is where it’s at.
Chapter 4: Marketers make a fatal mistake. They focus on optimizing the whole site. We focus on the tip of the spear. The most important page on your entire site is your product page. To understand why this is, read this post: Product Page Optimization.
About Frictionless Commerce
We only work with technical product DTC brands by improving advertising effectiveness by 20% in 90 days. This is achieved using a buyer psychology conversion copywriting framework. All paid traffic eventually reaches the product page and this is where we strike. Our process.
If you like doing the hard work yourself, our founder Rishi shares conversion ideas on LinkedIn every day. Connect with him here.
If you want to make your life easier and still increase conversions, jump on a call.