The question was never if, but when Amazon will enter the Dutch market for the full 100 percent. And that is now known: February 2020, Amazon will come to the Netherlands. Where you still have to place orders via the German Amazon (because on Amazon.nl you can only buy literature), all signals are green for a full introduction to Amazon in the Netherlands. The highly successful Amazon Prime subscription was introduced in the Netherlands on November 8, 2017, with an introductory price. And iDEAL as a payment option. Amazon is no longer one of the, but almost certainly the largest online store in the Netherlands. Does that mean the end for 'our' own web shops? And if not, what can Dutch web stores do to not perish?
Such as Emerce reported last year on the basis of two surveys: Amazon is already one of the largest e-commerce shops in the Netherlands. With an estimated turnover of 250 million euros, Amazon in the Netherlands is already larger than a MediaMarkt or H&M. In Germany, Amazon is already the largest e-commerce player due to an early introduction.
Do you want to compete with Amazon?
Be the largest or the cheapest. These achievements are important in every competition. On both fronts, Dutch web stores are unlikely to beat Amazon. In fact, Dutch web stores can better give up the hope that something can actually be won against Amazon, because the group is simply too powerful for that. To determine a strategy with which a Dutch web store can survive in a competitive battle of which Amazon is part, it is interesting to find out first why Amazon is actually so powerful. This is not only due to mere scale and pricing.
Right to exist
In recent years, Amazon has been working hard on acquiring a unique right to exist in the lives of its customers. You could even say that selling and delivering products has increasingly become a side issue. Amazon wants to be a pivot in the everyday life of consumers. Consider, for example, Amazon Echo, a speech-driven set of speakers that can take on the role of an assistant in the home and can perform small jobs, such as controlling devices or placing orders.
Did you already know Dash Replenishment Services (DRS)? DRS is a network of devices connected to your WiFi that automatically send out signals when they need maintenance or new stock. For example, consider a new filter for your refrigerator. DRS ensures that all supplies are then automatically sent to you. Amazon is strongly committed to innovation. Like robots not only in the warehouse but also for distribution (Amazon Prime Air), and pay in a supermarket without going to the checkout (Amazon Go in combination with the mega acquisition of supermarket chain Whole Foods). In addition, the company is busy becoming a competitor to HBO and Netflix, with series such as The Man in the High Castle, Philip K Dicke's Electric Dreams, Goliath, Sneaky Pete and in all likelihood The Expanse. This Amazon Video content is free for Amazon Prime subscribers. Amazon even organizes one Innovation Day, intended for Practical Innovation Leaders. And the company dares to make costly mistakes. The list of failed Amazon products includes the Fire Phone, Destinations (Travel), Daily Deals, Amazon Local, Amazon Wallet, Endless.com, Askville and Amazon Register. Never heard of it? Amazon doesn't care, because it's about the successes.
New markets through new technology
Amazon is structurally succeeding in adding value to the lives of its customers through the use of new technologies. That delivers customer retention and loyalty on. When Amazon has grown in your home and / or life, the switch to a competitor is far away. Exactly as Amazon does with Amazon Alexa:
Since December 2017, Amazon has been offering Alexa The Netherlands: you talk to a device to order products and services. That is called one e-commerce ecosystem: because of the scale, Amazon can create its own sales channel that nobody can intervene without paying. The latest versions also have a screen, but are 'voice first". The steering is optimal with voice. For many, this gadget will be the first step to home automation (home automation).
If Amazon Alexa takes a flight and replaces 'traditional channels' such as stores and web shops, then Amazon launches a completely new market. Other retailers then no longer have access to consumers. For many small, Dutch web stores, the question will not be how they can compete with all these developments and technology - no, the Dutch webshop should ask itself how best to use the path that Amazon has paved.
Participate with Amazon: digital store-in-store
One of the options that Amazon offers is running your own digital store-in-store. With the power of Amazon in the background, the Dutch trader can offer his own wares. In the meantime, you can ride on all the wonderful things that Amazon offers, such as the excellent algorithms that provide customers with personalized product suggestions. With the name recognition and the good reputation of Amazon you don't have to worry about a lack of traffic or mistrustful customers. Your own mini-Amazon will be a beacon of professionalism, where your customers will experience a familiar, pleasant online store visit.
Reverse: you inform a potential competitor
Does that all sound too good to be true? Perhaps, because if you use such a digital store-in-store, you realize that you are also an Amazon customer and that Amazon is watching over your shoulder with everything you do. So that beautiful top product with which you offer hundreds of customers, Amazon will also find interesting. Rain Design sells an extremely successful one laptop standard. That was an outright hit on Amazon, until Amazon itself came up with a similar laptop standard: almost the same design and material, but much cheaper. As general manager, Harvey Tai, stated on Fortune.com: "There is nothing we can do about it because they didn't violate the patent."
Amazon also has access to all your customer data, because, strictly speaking, these are all Amazon customers. And let Amazon happen to be the largest cloud provider worldwide. Processing big data is Amazon's core business. In short: piggybacking with Amazon sounds ideal, but it does have a downside. Your success on Amazon can easily become Amazon's success.
Amazon survive by distinguishing
So what do you have to do if you want to survive the entry of Amazon? Unfortunately, there is no step-by-step plan to survive Amazon, but being aware of the approaching competition is already a good start. Get to know Amazon and why it is so successful. You can determine a strategy based on this. Keep a close eye on this formidable competitor, what competitors are doing and the options you have. Continue to adjust your strategy, because Amazon certainly does.
The most important achievement is finding your distinctive character. Know and propagate why your web store is different from Amazon. That can be anything: Dutch telephone support, great customer service, aftercare, exclusivity, easy collection (as Bol.com does with AH), excellent accessibility via social media or simply having your own store where customers can experience products. Like Coolblue for example.
Ask the why question
You can find that distinction best by asking the why question: it is not about what customers buy from you, it's about why buy them from you. Remind them of that. That is the only way to remain successful in a market dominated by a player like Amazon. Think of something your right to exist and continuously communicate that to your customers. Keeping your existing customers on board is, after all, your first priority, because those customers can easily order products everywhere, and especially from Amazon.