Amazon is one of the biggest e-commerce stores in the world and dominates most of the marketplace.

In fact, for the last twenty years, very few e-commerce stores have been able to compete with Amazon and those that did were quickly acquired by the giant online retailer.

These companies included Zappos and Diapers, who have both stated at different times that their decision to merge with Amazon was a- “if you can’t beat them, join them” decision.

Since Amazon released their loyalty program, Amazon Prime, things have only gotten worse for competitors and as it has been predicted many times, it won’t be long until this e-commerce giant outshines the biggest retailer in America, Wal-Mart.

So, it is really possible to compete with Amazon?

Yes and No. The way things are currently going it would be fruitless to make competing with Amazon your one and only goal, however there are some ways that you can still have your e-commerce business thrive.

Don’t believe me?

Look at e-commerce stores like Warby Parker and Gilt. They have both made huge names for themselves because they tapped into a niche market. Warby Parker sells glasses and Gilt sells high end fashion at discounted rates, both of which are not really Amazon’s strong point.

Tapping into a niche market is one way to compete with Amazon, however there are four other strategies that can be adopted to deal with Amazon’s overbearing presence.

1. Proprietary Pricing

Let’s face it, especially when it comes to online retail pricing does matter. In fact, this was one of the ways that Amazon became a key player in the industry. They offered some of the most competitive prices around which is what ultimately drew customers to their webpage.

Proprietary pricing is also what created the flash sale industry and can be an extremely powerful way to get buyers to your store.

A good example of this trend is Cyber Monday. Offering huge discounts for a short period of time has been shown to boost conversions and help obtain life long customers.

2. Proprietary Selection

Offering a very specific selection of goods is a great way to compete with Amazon. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you offer exclusive items, but it means that you offer items that feel exclusive in some way. To do this, you need to follow three basic principles:

  • Have a depth to the assortment of goods that you offer
  • Offer items that are difficult to find elsewhere ( both online or offline)
  • Build a strong community behind what you are offering

Two companies that have successfully achieved this include ModCloth and Nastygal. Both of these stores are different however, they both offer a proprietary selection of goods and have both built a loyal community behind their brands.

In fact, both of these e-commerce stores sell third party items, however they feel so much like the brands themselves due to their clever marketing and online presence.

3. Proprietary Experience

In order to compete with Amazon, e-commerce stores have come up with new and different ways of selling that have never been done before. These models include subscriptions services like Just Fab, ShoeDazzle and even Birchbox.

All of these brands offer a different way to experience e-commerce by either allowing visitors to select items based on styles uniquely chosen for them, or as in BirchBox’s case where they send you a randomly assorted collection of beauty products each month.

Sites like Warby Parker have also done this with their glasses selection. They allow customers to trial on a few different pairs at home before selecting and paying for the ones that they like.

All of these experiences are out of the norm for most e-commerce models, however they work as they offer something more tailored and exciting for consumers which draws them away from sites like Amazon.

4. Proprietary Merchandise

This is when a company builds its own brand with e-commerce as its core channel. This allows brands to offer goods that are not available anywhere else, meaning that if customers want them they have to come to your store.

Choosing this model also allows you to create your own margins and takes most competition out of the equation.

The trick with making this strategy successful is to offer products or services that fill a specific need for the consumer and that are unique enough to help your brand to stand out. To achieve this however, it will take time and a lot of effort would need to be put into building your brand.

This strategy is not so much about building an e-commerce store, but more about building a brand however, the long term reward may be well worth it.

Let’s face it, Amazon is here to stay but that doesn’t mean that you need to close shop on your own e-commerce store.

By following some of these strategies and thinking of better ways to tailor your customer experience, your brand can definitely find its own feet to stand on.