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Competing with Amazon

09.08.2012, Sports, by .

How do you compete with the New York Yankees?

They have all the money; attract the best talent; owners that are relentless at winning; buy out their competition.

How do you compete with Amazon?

Don’t take them head-on. Play small-ball; Billy-ball; money-ball.

Amazon has and continues to invest millions on systems; readers; selling books at the cheapest price; biggest selection etc. Don’t try to outspend them. Don’t get into a bidding and building war with someone who has vast resources. That strategy is one to fail. The latest decision in the DOJ suit, shows that Amazon even has political clout. Big companies change the laws. It happens in every industry.

Amazon is a great retailer. I use them. But I also shop as much as I can from my local stores. But Amazon can do a lot that others can not.

How to compete? Some thoughts:

  • Specialty retailer – Don’t try to out-Amazon Amazon. Go after a niche. Build that community and be the experts. Some publishers have tried to do this, but it isn’t that effective. Why? ┬áTo be effective, one must be publisher-agnostic and sell all within the subject. Plus, it is a full-time division that needs to do this. Not just a committee that meets once a week. There must be a commitment throughout the organization.
  • Trustworthy reviews and opinion – Recently the NYTimes reported that many Amazon reviews are bought and paid for. That the reliability of these reviews is questionable. Amazon also takes their eBook metadata from the publishers. Sure there is some additional info added by the author and users, but it is all marketing, bought and commercialized. Building a site that provides honest reviews would go a long way to building trust.
  • Subscription sales – Many publishers have resisted selling their eBooks this way. They prefer to sell the entire book and not allow people to taste bits. But this attitude is evolving. The business models are changing. Publishers have to grapple with which ones to follow. It is a lot of movement. But with the volume of books now available, moving to subscription would help some get discovered. Books get lost on Amazon. Subscription allows those books that are completely invisible a shot at being read.
  • Consumable sales – this is a “pay as you read” model. It isn’t Subscription and it isn’t straight up sales. It is based on micro-payments and the consumer having a balance (like their Starbucks gold card). The more you read, the more you are charged. I still this model working. There are specifics genres that will work better. This is an alternative method, but one that has value. I currently consult with TOTAL BOOX, who are delivering in this area.
  • Hybrid – take all the existing models and pick and choose.

One of the most difficult things about competing with any giant is if you are fortunate enough to beat them, they will either buy you out or copy. So the game is never over. It goes on and on.

Today, Amazon looks invincible. They announced newer, faster, sleeker devices. The government is on their side. Their stock is at al all-time high. But things change. For a competitor to be successful, they just need a small slice of Amazon’s pie. A very small piece of this enormous pie is enough to make a lot.

The Yankees are in a battle now with small market, low revenue Baltimore Orioles; Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland As.

It can work.

It does work.

It will work.


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