How Smaller Ecommerce Stores Can Compete Against Amazon

Ever heard the story of David vs. Goliath?

How about The Karate Kid, The Mighty Ducks or The Bad News Bears? They are all versions of the classic tale of a lowly underdog struggling against all odds against an unbeatable opponent. And somehow, with a little luck and tenacity, the underdog struggles valiantly and ultimately wins.

That’s what it feels like to compete against Amazon’s massive sales advantage when your ecommerce store is a tiny speck on the Internet.

Yet, Amazon isn’t infallible and it’s certainly not invincible. It may be challenging, but your smaller, unknown ecommerce store can do an amazing business even as Amazon grows by the day.

Get Automated. It’s Cheaper Than You Think

There is no denying that Amazon has some incredibly sophisticated technology that sucks you into staying on their pages longer and buying more. And it’s all customized to you. My Amazon homepage is specifically tailored to me with items I’ve recently viewed, recommendations of eBooks I may like, and new videos I may be interested in. It’s all about me!

Maybe you don’t have the budget to develop this kind of customized code, but you can probably afford the next best thing: marketing automation.

Programs like GetResponse help you focus all your energy and resources only on ones that are interested in buying. As Ann Handley puts it:

“You don’t want to attract all of the people. Instead, you want to attract the right people. Why? Because it’s a waste of time and resources to nurture relationships with people who are a bad fit for your business. It makes your nurturing programs seem far less robust that they actually are. It’s also emotionally exhausting.”

You can create a workflow like the one designed below to lead customers along a path until they are ready to buy. And a basic marketing automation program can be more affordable.

Sell Products From Your Website

Contrary to popular belief, there is no rule that says you have to sell your products through Amazon. The way to increase your brand is to sell products directly from your site. It also can decrease the competition Amazon would throw at any potential customer. Remember, Amazon is all about profits, just not your profit.

Create Something Exclusive

Why did I spend $25 on this t-shirt? It’s not special, nor is it particularly eye-catching. It doesn’t even have graphics and the logo is kind of bland (if you can call that a logo).

But that’s not the point. It’s a piece of merchandise from a popular podcast and I get stopped in the street by other fans when I wear it. It’s like being in an exclusive club and it’s not something you can get on Amazon.

By creating a brand, Crooked Media’s Pod Save America merchandise becomes something special. It’s not about this plain t-shirt with a simple name on it. And that’s what you have to do with your eStore. Make it exclusive and consider putting limits on the number of products available.

Amazon is Not Unbeatable

Can you go head-to-head and compete against Amazon? Not even a little.

But you’re not trying to be the next Amazon. You don’t have the resources, workforce or technology that Amazon has at it’s fingertips. Instead, you have a tiny ecommerce store that seems inconsequential against the great Amazon machine. And that is good enough.

How do I know that you can succeed? Because millions of other eStores are doing it every single day. And you have something that Amazon can never compete with: your brand.

Read more tips on marketing your company at TechCo

Did you find this article helpful? Click on one of the following buttons
We're so happy you liked! Get more delivered to your inbox just like it.

We're sorry this article didn't help you today – we welcome feedback, so if there's any way you feel we could improve our content, please email us at

Written by:
Liesha's a freelancer by day and Kyokushin Black Belt by night. A late-blooming academic, she's happiest teaching business and globalization at UoPeople. Her newest project is Work Mobly, an online magazine called which helps freelancers find freedom, happiness, and profit while working from anywhere. Get in touch with Liesha on Twitter.
Back to top