Amazon’s Online Marketing Strategy is Impacting Conventional Retail Stores

Thanks to the rise of online shopping and marketplaces, retail stores have seen a significant shift in how they operate. Gone are the days of going into a physical store with a list of items to buy. With many retailers embracing online marketplaces, it has led to a complete transformation in the way we shop. In fact, according to HubSpot Blogs research, 79% of consumers currently choose to research products online first before making a purchase. Moreover, 69% of consumers feel more positive about products they found online, rather than those they discover in stores.

Why Are Retailers Embracing E-commerce?

It’s no secret that retail stores struggle with low walk-in traffic and crowded aisles. While it used to be enough to simply have a storefront and put up a few signs to draw in customers, now they need to have an online presence as well. In the past, when shopping online, consumers would visit a few big-name retailers to find everything they needed. Today, with the rise of marketplaces like Amazon, having a presence online is essential for any business, especially for retailers.

Due to e-commerce platforms like Amazon letting consumers choose from a variety of merchants and brands, retailers can rest assured their customers are seeing their offerings and are being drawn to their sites. Moreover, with the click of a button, a shopper can be connected to the item they want, whether that’s a sweater from Zappos, a suit from Nordstrom or a camera from Samsung. Online marketplaces like Amazon change everything about a business’ approach to marketing, and how they connect with customers. It used to be that shoppers would visit a physical retail store, browse their wares and leave. Today, with more and more people choosing to research products online before purchasing them, the role of the retail store has changed. Now, shoppers are sometimes more interested in a product’s reviews or the establishment’s branding than their price. Having a physical store just isn’t as essential as it used to be.

How are Retailers Responding to This Transformation?

While retail stores have adjusted to this new way of shopping, they haven’t always been happy about it. In fact, according to HubSpot Blogs research, 17% of retail merchants believe the rise of online shopping has harmed their business. Moreover, 15% of those respondents worry about a loss of customers, while 13% feel their business has declined because of the change in consumer behavior. Still, retailers must adjust to this new way of shopping and be willing to embrace new technologies if they want to survive in the long-term. If they don’t, they’ll soon find themselves struggling to make ends meet as shoppers either choose to do their research online or invest in increasingly expensive inflatable packs that hold their purchased items, preventing them from being returned.

What is the Role of Marketing in Response to This Transformation?

Since retail stores have shifted to focusing more on online marketing and sales, it’s important they continue to evolve with the times and adopt new methods and technologies to remain relevant and competitive. According to HubSpot Blogs research, marketing is the biggest challenge facing retailers right now, with 20% of marketers feeling their job is harder than ever and 23% believing their skills are insufficient to tackle the modern marketing task. Moreover, only 12% of marketers feel their agency offers them the support they need to succeed.

However, with the right tools and processes in place, marketers can efficiently plan, manage and track all online marketing efforts from start to finish. The role of the marketer changes as well, moving from traditional tactics like advertising and marketing to encompass all online efforts, from branding and website design to SEO, PPC and social media marketing.

To better understand how to respond to this transformation, let’s examine the steps involved in Amazon’s online marketing strategy.

Why Has Amazon Landed on the Top of the Marketing Hierarchy?

Amazon is the largest online retailer worldwide, with the ability to offer a broad selection of products from many different merchants and brands. This has enabled them to become one of the most popular online destinations for shoppers who want to research and purchase products. Naturally, when it comes to marketing, marketing managers want to know what makes Amazon special and why they should be concerned about the competition. According to HubSpot Blogs research, 64% of marketers feel their primary goal is to increase sales, followed by brand awareness (38%), then driving traffic (36%). In fact, as more people turn to digital means of research and comparison, marketers must ensure their websites are streamlined and easy to use so shoppers can find everything they need in one place.

These three areas—sales, brand awareness and traffic—represent the foundation of any marketing strategy. However, when deciding which tactics to use, marketers must take into consideration the unique role Amazon plays in each of these areas.

What is Amazon’s Approach to Sales?

Due to their size and scope, it’s likely Amazon has devoted an entire team to exploring and implementing tactics to increase sales. To start, let’s examine their approach to marketing.

According to HubSpot Blogs research, 40% of marketers feel their primary goal is to increase sales, followed by brand awareness (36%), then driving traffic (20%). In the past, traditional retailers focused heavily on driving traffic to their sites through paid search and display ads. However, with the rise of marketplaces like Amazon, it’s important to consider all the different ways shoppers can visit a website, regardless of whether or not they have an intent to make a purchase. In the case of Amazon, they know exactly what products their customers are looking for and use this information to provide what they need, when they need it. The traditional approach of focusing on driving traffic and sales doesn’t apply to everyone, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.

How Do They Approach Brand Awareness?

Branding is a critical element of any marketing strategy and something that retailers must be mindful of, especially when competing for customers in a crowded marketplace. To start, let’s examine Amazon’s approach to brand awareness.

According to HubSpot Blogs research, 38% of marketers feel their primary goal is to increase brand awareness, followed by sales (36%), then driving traffic (20%). Essentially, when planning a branding strategy, marketers must consider how the public perceives their brand and whether or not they want to expand to other markets or regions. Moreover, when developing a marketing strategy, marketers should consider how to present their brand in the most effective and relevant way. For example, if you’re a fashion brand competing for customers in the clothing industry, it’s important to consider the style and size of the audience you’re trying to reach, as well as how that brand relates to today’s youthful demographic.

What is Amazon’s Approach to Driving Traffic?

Since marketing focuses on getting traffic to a site, it follows that driving traffic is one of the primary objectives of any marketing strategy. To better understand how Amazon approaches driving traffic, let’s examine their approach to sales.

According to HubSpot Blogs research, 20% of marketers feel their primary goal is to drive traffic, followed by sales (16%), then brand awareness (15%). Naturally, when driving traffic, it’s important to consider the strategy and channels used to reach your audience. For example, does your website receive the majority of its traffic from organic search or paid search?

Organic search, a.k.a. “natural search,” refers to searches carried out by internet users who aren’t directed to a website by paid ads. Moreover, paid search accounts for much of the search traffic on the internet. However, since the advent of Google AdWords, marketing and SEO managers can use this information to their advantage and strategically plan SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to maximize organic growth.

Given the importance of SEO and PPC to driving traffic, it’s clear that Amazon understands its role in this area and how to effectively use SEO and paid search to reach its audience.

Putting It All Together

With just a quick glance, it’s clear that while retail stores have seen a significant shift in how they operate, marketing hasn’t always been able to keep up. Still, with the proper planning, research and implementation, marketing can play a crucial role in driving sales, brand awareness and traffic to a website. By understanding what makes Amazon special, as well as the unique role each of these areas play in their marketing strategy, marketers can efficiently develop and execute a plan that helps them grow and prosper in the coming years.