These days, the word “Amazon” conjures up more thoughts of the eCommerce giant than its namesake river and rainforest. Thanks to that notoriety, many entrepreneurs have had success selling their products on the massive platform. However, today we’ll discuss some precautions and learn how you can — and why you should — scale your eCommerce store beyond Amazon.

Why You Need to Grow Beyond Amazon

As we’ve discussed on our blog in the past, selling on Amazon has many benefits. Our source states, “Each month, hundreds of millions of customers shop on Amazon - more than any other retail property in the United States. Customers trust the well-established site and are more than comfortable making purchases from the platform - sometimes without thinking twice about it.”

Yes, the easy integration of Amazon and Shopify successfully connects online brands with willing shoppers around the world. Plus, Amazon’s powerful search algorithm can help consumers locate products more effectively than SEO could lead them to your site, especially if your brand is newer.

However, while taking advantage of Amazon’s tremendous reach seems to be an obvious decision, it’s essential to proceed with caution. Some business owners who placed all of their proverbial eggs in Amazon’s shopping basket were later disappointed. They reported higher fees than anticipated, a lack of consumer data, and uncontrollable (often fluctuating) company rules/regulations.

As a result, eCommerce entrepreneurs must pay careful attention to the balance of effort spent on Amazon versus their own store. While Amazon is a fantastic method for reaching new shoppers, sustainable eCommerce growth will only result from continued action on your website in these three areas:              

  • Strengthening vital connections.
  • Strategizing long-term marketing.
  • Staying true to your brand.

Let’s discuss each of these aspects in more detail.

How to Scale Your eCommerce Store

Strengthen Vital Connections

Customer data is one of the most influential, valuable assets to a business owner. It indicates what customers want, reflects a store’s performance, and, analyzed correctly, can pave the way for long-term relationships. However, Amazon’s lack of transparency with shopper data can cause third-party sellers to lose out on priceless statistics.

Thus, it’s essential that, as a business owner, you strive to strengthen the connections to which you do have access. That means using your store to wisely collect all information allowed, and strategically using it to foster deeper relationships with your customers.

One of the best ways to do so is by building your email list and segmenting it effectively to provide customers with a customized brand experience that speaks to them and their situation. Provide your subscribers with valuable, helpful content, no matter what that may look like for your particular niche. By strengthening your customer relationships, you’ll increase their loyalty and reap the lasting benefits of it.

Strategize Long-Term Marketing

Speaking of marketing, don’t mistakenly conclude that Amazon will take care of driving traffic to your store. While the algorithm will connect shoppers with your products on Amazon itself (and a small percentage of buyers might look deeper into your brand) the roll-over from Amazon’s site to third-party sites is quite limited. In other words, Amazon will drive traffic to products on Amazon, and you may earn more sales from those products. However, you’ll still need to drive traffic to your website, too, if you want your brand to grow sustainably.

Though marketing strategy can be quite complex, here is a short checklist to ensure you’re heading in the right direction when it comes to steadily gaining loyal customers:

  • Plan extremely well, based on short- and long-term company goals.
  • Set objectives, deadlines, and schedules to keep campaigns on track.
  • Optimize your site and product listings for search engine results (SEO).
  • Invest in social media marketing, search engine advertising, affiliate marketing, or other lead generation strategies as appropriate per niche — don’t be afraid to test new channels.
  • Segment email campaigns to target shoppers in different areas of the sales funnel — along the way, don’t forget to offer more than promotions, but provide value.
  • Run A/B tests to consistently increase ad/copy effectiveness — open experimentation leads to growth.
  • Perform research often to remain aware of market trends, customer journey, and industry best practices.
  • Automate as much as possible to eliminate human error and reduce workload.
  • Ensure your reporting/analytics software is up to date and accurate.  

Stay True to Your Brand

Amazon’s branding works — after all, even toddlers recognize the smiley packaging boxes when they arrive on the porch. To scale your store, it’s important to cultivate a brand as easily recognized and loved. And, because Amazon limits the amount of personal branding third-party sellers can add to their products, it’s all the more essential that you focus on branding where and when you can.

However, branding isn’t just about the boxes, bags, and logos. Rather, your brand encompasses attitude, emotion, mantras, and even the personal motivation you have for operating the store. Keep this in mind on your website, in marketing copy, and in other content that shoppers may see. As you share this information with customers, they’ll draw closer to your brand and develop a loyalty to it that isn’t easily broken.

One way that business owners have cleverly taken back their brand from popular commercial sales is by instituting special events on their own sites. For example, Target holds an annual event called the “Deal Days” which just so happens to coincide with the timing of Amazon’s “Prime Day.”

Nordstrom hosts another yearly event, dubbed the “Anniversary Sale.” Customers look forward to it throughout the year for unparalleled discounts and savings. Perhaps you could use Black Friday, a seasonal milestone, or another well-known holiday to promote savings directly from your site, rather than solely relying on Prime Day to drive all of your sales.          

Scale on Your Terms to Ensure Your Success

Selling on Amazon can help you grow, but that doesn’t mean the eCommerce giant automatically sets you up for success. Rather, it’s imperative to properly balance your efforts between selling on Amazon and taking control of your site as well.

By strengthening your relationship with shoppers, properly strategizing marketing campaigns, and building a brand of which you're proud, you’ll steadily increase your customer base and sustainably scale your eCommerce store beyond Amazon — or, better yet, amicably alongside the retail legend.