You may not need to punch a clock, wear a tie, or even get leave the house to go to work when you’re running a profitable Amazon store.
But never forget—you still have people to please!
Your boss is your customer!
Well, preferably, customers, plural.
You’re trading the heavier direct supervision of a few people for a more diffused, but still incredibly powerful, scrutiny from (hopefully) thousands of people!
You need a steady, increasing flow of their input, their insights, and their interest—without it, your business will die!
So where and how do you get this essential information?
With these five key tactics.
Always read reviews
Three mistakes I usually see with entrepreneurs reading reviews are as follows:
They only read their own
Warrior, it’s lonely at the top...if you think your mountain is the only one.
In reality, entrepreneurship means dedicating yourself to constantly learning—and that means learning from your competition as well!
Take what your customers say about your products into account, but always scope out your competition.
If they’re doing something wrong, you can fill the need they aren’t. If they’re doing something right, you can figure out how to differentiate their strengths to bolster your products with your people!
They stop reading competitor reviews after launch
I put emphasis on reading competitor reviews for a reason—they help you understand what people need.
But if your competition is smart, they’ll be constantly optimizing!
I’m not saying to give yourself a complex looking in their backyards. Don’t waste your time with constant, meaningless comparisons.
Do use your time following them productively by checking out how their adjustments will influence your own!
They don’t proactively seek input
If at any point you think you’re in the clear as far as gathering info, even if you’re rolling in Hanzade Dogan-Boyner amounts of money, I’ve got a newsflash for you. You’re wrong!
There’s a big gap between analysis paralysis and a ‘meh’ attitude about your business.
If you’re not taking steps to actively gain reviews, ask your customers what they think, incentivize them to share their opinions, and research, research, research?
You’ll end up starved for information, and your business will flatline.
There’s enough information about how to get proactive that I could fill another blog...so I will!
Stay tuned for that, and for now, keep going.
Gather expert opinions.
Revlon. MAC. SheaMoisture.
Ask any American woman if she’s heard of these beauty brands, and chances are you’ll get a “DUH!”, not a “Yes!”
What do these three companies have in common besides raking in hundreds of millions of dollars each year?
They were all founded by men.
Am I going to judge my brothers standing tall in their “guyliner”? Not a chance. But let’s not kid ourselves—these companies were founded with catering to the ladies in mind, by gentlemen who wouldn’t be using the products they sold unless they lost a bet!
How did they get to household name status if they themselves weren’t experiencing the products firsthand? They listened to the women they were selling to!
Nail polish never gets totally used up? Now they’re mini-bottles. Lipstick keeps spilling in purses and ruining them? Now the containers click into place!
These companies were big even before the days where customers could weigh in directly on social media!
And they’d never have made it without paying attention to what the customers really wanted.
Whether your products are something you use or not, you have tools entrepreneurs in 1995 would have killed for at your disposal—don’t toss them aside!
And once you master checking in with your base...
Apply your knowledge everywhere
When Kim Kardashian launched her new brand of shapewear, she had most of what she needed.
She knew that the body-positivity movements could benefit her company if she included larger sizes. She knew that demand for truly skin colored unmentionables from diverse groups meant she needed several shades in production before launch.
Everything her customers could want was locked down on the product front...but then she tripped up on the brand name.
To quote Sonia Thompson, she "promptly received an avalanche of backlash." What's wrong with shapewear? Nothing, apparently, unless you call it "Kimono."
Not only did it lead to a plethora of ‘Kim, oh no!’ headlines, her attempt to trademark a Japanese cultural landmark for her own clothes lead to even her own fans accusing her of culture appropriation—the inappropriate adoption of the customs or ideas of another society. Kind of like when Pepsi tried to borrow the Black Lives Matter movement and make it into a message of "unity, peace and understanding," or the Chinese detergent commercial that depicted a black male being washed and coming out as a fairer-skinned Asian male.
It's trendy to say, "Hey, our new line of knives are special! Wanna know why? They're German!" Or "See our puffy pillows brand? They go back to ancient Japanese Samurai warrior tradition!"
But people see through it. Reducing a meaningful cultural tradition from a less powerful culture to an exotic toy or line of fashion to be sold to a more dominant society is the epitome of culture appropriation.
And in true, humble entrepreneurial fashion Kim did something remarkable. She asked her followers what they would name the new line of shapewear.
And thus, SKIMS Solutionwear was born!
She listened to her followers.
She let them tell her what they wanted.
And she delivered.
Build where your customers are
During New York Fashion week this year, I spent 10 hours interacting with dozens of fashion designers behind the scenes, as my clothing company’s looks prepared to travel the runway.
I was shocked at how few of these exotic and eye-catching designs were not selling on Amazon. In fact, I did not find a single fashion designer whose product is on Amazon—I was the only one!
Thank you to Lauren Eggertsen who penned an article on Yahoo, "8 Chic Brands You Never Knew Were on Amazon."
If you have a product, no matter how hard you market it, there's a strong chance your product will never been seen by millions unless you get it on Amazon. Launch on Amazon, then build your brand on your own platform!
Is there something to be said for fashions that are heavy, or unable to be mass produced staying off of Amazon? Yes! Bespoke fur coats don't suit the platform.
But if your designs are made in bulk, not made of heavy platinum thread, or otherwise easier to stock and ship?
There's no reason not to get in front of the millions of people using Amazon every day.
Always factor in perception
Imagine you’re in the market for a pen.
Between the pack of 24 for $5 and the single $50 unit, which do you think is the higher quality product?
Sure, you may not need an expensive quill, but without even mentioning anything about what these pens are made of, what brand they are, or even the color of ink—you formed an opinion in an instant!
Of course every person has a different budget, and there’s nothing wrong with capturing a certain market at a certain price point!
But making moves based on price-point alone is never the right strategy.
Case in point?
United UK, announced on Friday that Forever 21 is going bankrupt. First it was a just a rumor. Now it's hitting big headlines.
Steve Miley, senior market analyst at asktraders.com, nailed the heart of the issue: "They were built on the supermarket concept of increasing footfall in large stores."
If your business depends on foot traffic, beware of all competitors who depend on shoppers on a website.
The only chance of Forever 21 surviving this Dorian-sized disruption of the retail market according to Miley, includes 3 steps:
- Close all the unprofitable stores
- Increase footfall in profitable retail stores
- Expand their online presence
Brilliant strategy. But there is a critical piece missing here: pricing. Just a few months ago, our team did a study on Forever 21's offerings.
After a vast survey of their clothing prices, we found the average price was $18.63.
That's a problem. Fashion buyers' perception of Forever 21 is that it’s a low-cost brand.
When your profit margins are thinner than spider silk, shifting your strategy to an all out affront to win the online marketplace means bleeding more money before seeing profits.
Put another way, when cash is what you need, spending more cash could be the architecture of your company's coffin.
So what you need isn’t just a shift in tactics. You need a shift in perception.
Is changing price the only way to change perception?
Take a look at how Tupperware re-invented itself, courtesy of Column Five Media.
They went from cluttered:
To cleaned up!
See how they still kept the colorful feel, while making their site look sleek?
That rebranding was all about perception!
A few other adjustments you can make are:
Revamping your social media presence
Changing your logo
Adjusting your refunds policy
Re-formulating your product
The important thing to keep in mind is that it’s absolutely vital to make changes in keeping with your customers’ needs!
Warrior, listening to your customers is completely vital to your business.
Don't tear down your empire by keeping your ears closed—remember, dethroning disruptors can only shake things up if you let them get stale!