local shops

You Don’t Need To Be An Amazon To Succeed In Online Business

If someone were to ask you to name a few e-commerce websites, Amazon will probably be first on that list. Its whopping numbers give us insight as to why that is likely. In India alone its total user base is more than 100 million. Its income for FY21 was reported to be ₹16,200 crore. And over 4,000 Amazon products are sold per minute. (source: shiprocket.in)

But if someone were to ask you to recommend a home-decor seller or perhaps a place to buy shoes, you are likely to refer to someone more known to you. Someone you’ve experienced more closely, interacted with on a personal level and built a relationship with, thereby worthy of your referral.

Every business needs referrals and all business people know that their customers are their best ambassadors. No amount of advertisement or publicity can match the influence of a customer, irrespective of whether it’s an offline or an online business. A happy customer will rope in others and an unhappy one will repel a lot more. But, what exactly is it that makes a business remarkable enough for its customers to talk about it? 

It’s their experience with the business. Generally, experience would entail one or more of these elements: ease of communication, feel-good factor, attention received, trust and/or emotional connection. The ability to maneuver through a customer’s need is far better in smaller businesses than larger ones for one single reason alone; ownership. To be willing to put out the best version of oneself or to strive to give someone the best (shopping) experience only comes with ownership. And ownership cannot be inculcated, it has to be taken. 

Ownership does not necessarily mean owning a business, although more times than not it is valid. When one has a sense of ownership, one becomes proactive in the processes of business, especially customer interaction. Every aspect of business becomes personal and thereby an integral part of the owner. The dedication and joy that ownership brings is experienced by customers in their interactions with the businesses, which is what sets smaller businesses apart from the larger corporations.

In their zeal to appeal to bigger audiences, larger businesses tend to focus on the numbers. Price, costs, discounts, audience size, ratings, etc are all volume driven and not experience driven, which is why the number one reason why people shop on platforms like Amazon is price. But you don’t have to play by those rules. They were never meant for you. Don’t try to serve the masses, serve a community. Build a niche. There will always be enough business for everyone.

After all, don’t forget that with the advent of supermarkets and hypermarkets there were doomsday predictions for the small mom and pop stores. Yet today we see that these local grocery stores are thriving and growing unlike the supermarkets, so much so that almost each of the larger supermarkets are planning to tie-up with the local grocery stores.

Niyati Sethia
Co-Founder, Greenmor