How Online Retailers Can Not Only Survive But Thrive in Amazon’s and Walmart’s Shadows

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“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”

– Malcolm Gladwell

When I tell people what I do, I often get the response: “So basically, you’re trying to be the next Amazon or Walmart?”

Anyone who knows ShipBob, knows that we have an entirely different mission from the logistics giants mentioned above. I totally get that adversarial relationships often set the stage for many compelling narratives, but the reality of the fulfilment landscape is far more nuanced than an overly-simplified David and Goliath parable. However, there are a few notable commonalities.

New Yorker contributor and bestselling author, Malcom Gladwell teases these out in “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.” Upon facing his formidable foe, the hero of this oft-cited cautionary tale realises that, although intimidating and daunting at first, his enormous size is in fact his weakness as well.

Corporate fulfilment giants suffer the same flaw. ShipBob is your proverbial sling shot. Our custom-tailored service allows our clients to address that flaw and fill the void. They just need to bring the rocks.

Being 6’4” myself, I am somewhat wary of the comparison I’m exploring, but, at the same time, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s indisputably true.

In order to strategically overcome the obstacles poised by the ubiquity of 2-day shipping in the current climate of Prime dominance, ShipBob is able to match the ecommerce fulfilment power and scale of a large national retailer, without the sacrifice.

As I see it, the utilisation of ShipBob’s stellar 3PL services allows retailers to take advantage of the two major drawbacks of online marketplaces.

Missed opportunities for growth

Sure, every sale seems great, but when you retail merchandise as a third-party seller through Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, or Walmart Marketplace, the loyalty that is being established is between those companies and your customer.

In fact, many of your consumers might not even know your company exists. On some vague level, they know that someone else is in the mix, but we’re conditioned to think that everything is outsourced on some level. What’s one more link in the chain of supply?

However, that link is you, and buyers aren’t afforded the opportunity to get a true sense of who you are. By operating in the third-party capacity, you will experience a number of disadvantages.

Beyond the contractual and financial technicalities, when you sell on a site like Amazon, you are roped into their overall brand. Most merchants have invested countless financial resources, along with (sometimes literal) blood, sweat, and tears, into their company.

This extends from building a website through marketing, SEO, and cultivating a distinct social media presence.  This brings us to the second point…

Maintaining brand integrity and cultivating customer loyalty

Another disadvantage of selling through an Amazon, Walmart, etc. is that you don’t get your hands on your buyers’ email addresses. This is significant for many reasons, but what it ultimately boils down to is several missed opportunities.

Without knowing who your customers are, you cannot engage in the valuable process of conversing with them. Such discussions can help you refine products and also develop future ones.

Being able to communicate with your customers enables you to promote your products, including offering any deals, sales, or discounts.

Over time, these interactions build into reliable customer service and personalised relationships. This approach of cultivating and maintaining brand integrity has proven to give more bang for your buck than any other marketing tactic.

Finding the right balance

As an online merchant, you must achieve both reaching the largest audience possible, as well as maintaining a strong sense of brand identity. ShipBob can provide 2-day shipping, while also letting customers use their own branded boxes and inserts.

All this, while the service is both seamless and seemingly invisible to your end customer. You get all the credit, and we’re okay with that.

If you sell on Walmart or Amazon, you are missing opportunities to turn visitors into repeat customers and build your brand. If you’re looking to cultivate longer-lasting relationships with customers, learn how ShipBob can help.

Learn more

Learn how to compete with giant retailers by meeting customer expectations around 2-day shipping.

Download the“ShipBob 2-Day Express Shipping” eguide below.

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Written By:

George is the Head of Partnerships at ShipBob and founding team member. He works with strategic partners and finds mutually beneficial relationships.

Read all posts written by George Wojciechowski