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Obviously, as a student at Pickens Technical College’s Small Business Management program, you’re trying to learn as much as you can so you can be as successful as you can. Whether you’re building your own business or hoping to bring your business skills and expertise to an established company, learning about and emulating corporate giants like Amazon is natural, especially if you’re interested in the e-commerce field.

In the world of e-commerce, Amazon is king. It’s valued at over $1 trillion, and in the US, it makes up 49 cents of every dollar spent on online products. Amazon has taken over the world despite losing money on its Prime program and struggling in its early years to grow quickly. It might seem like a no-brainer to look at Amazon’s business model as a template for your own, but instead of trying to be like Amazon, focus on offering what Amazon can’t.

Even if you’re not necessarily building your own e-commerce company from the ground up and you’re working for another company, you can take the opportunity to do something different than Amazon and fill a void that consumers would relate to and engage with.

Building a Subscription Service

One of the concepts you’re learning about in the e-commerce realm is the power of subscriptions. Using Amazon as a model for your own subscription service or as a way to inform your contributions to an existing one won’t work the way it does for Amazon because Amazon is a unique business. Its sheer size and scale, its purchasing power, and its distribution capabilities put it in another category. It covers the basics of e-commerce and subscription services too well for any other competitor to catch it.

Instead, build a subscription service that delivers what Amazon can’t. We all know Amazon packages by their smiley face box tape, but essentially, Amazon uses a plain brown box to deliver its products. Amazon prioritizes inventory and delivery speed, which you can’t match, but you can create anticipation by designing subscription boxes with bold colors and logos that draw attention and make opening one’s monthly product box an event.

Using Storytelling

People use Amazon because it’s convenient and they’re reasonably sure that no matter what particular item they want, they can find it there. Part of building a small business is about finding a niche. Amazon is a glorified search engine for products. You’re not building a new search engine. Your products are focused on a specific group of people. Focus on connecting with them and building a story surrounding your products, your brand, and your niche. Shoppers will pay extra for products from a brand they feel positively about. Build that positivity, connect with your target audience by creating a brand story with messaging that speaks to their values and the reasons why they need or want your products. Storytelling is an emotional experience. Tap into the emotional side of your target customers and build trust.

Small Businesses of the Future

Amazon as a company took big risks in its early years, driving down the costs of their products even if it cost them huge amounts of money. They’ve made it work to great success by becoming a ubiquitous product delivery service focused solely on its products. You can still be successful selling products online by creating a brand image that Amazon can never be: a small, honest, passionate business.