Lauren Ackerman, Web Content Specialist

I have a confession: I don’t hate Amazon. I know it’s popular – especially if you work in retail or marketing – to hate on Amazon. And there are good reasons for doing so. They’re taking over the world, they’re killing mom and pop stores and retail businesses and…it’s all true. But I’m finding it’s nearly impossible to hate on Amazon from a consumer perspective.

Amazon recently launched Amazon Go, a convenience store that solves the unsolvable age-old problem: waiting in line. And that in a nutshell is why I find them so unworthy of hate. Because they have the arrogance, the audacity, to solve unsolvable problems. And this is NOT the first time they’ve done it. In fact, Amazon’s meteoric rise is because they refuse to accept the status quo. They constantly innovate to solve problems that everyday people face.

It started with one-click ordering – they solved the “too many steps” problem of online ordering. While others were agonizing over all of the steps in the sales funnel, A/B conversion testing and shopping cart abandon rates, they just straight up removed the funnel. Click. Done.

Then they moved on to fast shipping and delivery. Now they’ve eliminated the problem of lines in stores. Pretty soon they’re going to eliminate the pain of waiting for a shipment with drone delivery.

So you’re not Amazon. So you don’t have the technological base or infrastructure to invent a solution to an age-old problem. You want to compete with Amazon?

You must innovate. You must bring something new and different to the table. You cannot sell the same stuff in the same way and just say you do it better. News flash: Everyone says that they do it better. You must actually be different.

Here are three steps to get you started:

  1. Think creatively. Use Systematic Inventive Thinking to get outside the box. Start by subtracting the most essential element in your business model. Sound familiar?

Everyone else: How do we improve conversion rates to get more people through the sales funnel?
Amazon: Let’s remove the sales funnel.

(See also: Uber launching a taxi service without taxis.)

  1. Problem solve. Do customer research, find out what problems they are facing. What’s the biggest one? The first one that you thought of and then immediately rejected because it was unsolvable. Solve THAT one.
  1. Be exclusive. Have an exclusive merchandise assortment, product bundles, financing terms, or offer delivery speed that no one else offers.

Banish the words “we’ve always done it this way” from your vocabulary. Brands that have experienced explosive growth in the last five years are those that have completely upended the business model by doing something cool and different: Uber started a taxi service without a fleet of taxis, Warby Parker and StitchFix popularized home try-ons, and now competitors are scrambling to follow suit. They found a way to make it new, different and exciting, and they can market themselves better because of it. If these brands have taught us anything, it’s that the way to steal the market share of an industry is by changing the face of it.

Need help changing the face of your industry? We can help with customer research, feasibility studies and big ideas. Send me an email at if you’d like to chat more.

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