Let me start by saying, I have nothing against Amazon. In fact, I’m a user and fan, but don’t look now, they are coming after your business.
They already own some pretty big market share in many categories beyond books and recently made real a proposed plan to add same day shipping. You know, it’s 8 am and you realize you’re out of toothpaste. No problem you’ll have a tube on your door before it’s time to brush and go to bed.
The service is launching selectively, (see map below) but is sure to further disrupt many small local businesses. But here’s the thing – we shouldn’t let it.
Now, don’t get me wrong this is not a head in the sand cry to urge people to buy local. In fact, it’s actually a plea to small business owners locally to up your game – because we need you.
Look all around you – people are out innovating you.
The so-called sharing economy is putting service businesses out of business because there’s simply no more market for the service. That certainly doesn’t make Uber the bad guy. Uber is just moving the money you spend on transportation to a new democratized group of people willing to drive us.
We need small business now more than ever because Amazon can’t replace the foundation of a community. Small business owners build our churches, coach our little leagues and support our local not for profits. But, they can’t do that unless they remain viable and that means figuring out how to employ the one thing that people will still pay for – an experience that moves them.
That I believe is the ultimate expression of how to compete in a search engine driven world.
And don’t think your industry is immune. Amazon is looking to control referrals for home services like plumbing. Buyers will buy in the way that makes the most sense to them and includes insurance, legal services and even consulting. There are few things we buy today that can only be acquired locally.
But there’s one thing a virtual experience can’t deliver and that’s a hug and a handshake.
There’s a new bakery that opened up near where I live and the response has been nothing short of phenomenal. On several occasions, I’ve seen lines wrapped around the inside and spilling to the outside. What Kate and Scott Meinke have done with Heirloom Bakery and Hearth is create an experience that moves people. The food is incredible, the branding is simple and artful, and the vibe simply draws you to come back over and over again. I suspect you can find artisanal bread, scones and crackers online and have them delivered to you by lunch, but you’ll never be moved in a way that simply makes you look forward to returning.
There’s a children’s bookstore near me that still provides kids with the kind of experience that helps them develop a love for adventure, dreaming, sharing, caring and perhaps even learning. No UPS truck can deliver that experience. We need Reading Reptile now more than ever.
There’s a gift store near me that sells things you simply can’t get anywhere. They source and support artists, they hold events that empower people to think bigger, and they support the local business community and neighborhood by giving back to the very organizations that make my community such an awesome place to live. We need Casey and Sloane Simmons and their brand of store called Stuff more than ever.
If you own a business of any kind, go to one of these three businesses listed above and see what a moving experience looks and feels like.
This is both a plea and warning to small businesses in every corner of the world. Create an experience that moves people or Amazon will put you out of business – and we need you to thrive!