There’s no competing with Amazon on scale. But retailers can appear bigger than they are and expand their online sales through strategic partnerships with affiliate sites, publishers and even complementary retailers and brands.

Ashley Wild, business development director, EMEA, Partnerize

Ashley Wild, business development director, EMEA, Partnerize

Many retail bankruptcies have been laid at the doorstep of Amazon, and that’s not terribly surprising. When your influence is so tremendous as to have an entire effect named after you—as in, the infamous Amazon Effect—casualties in the wake of your disruption are to be expected.

But the very changes in consumer expectations sparked by Amazon present as many opportunities as they do challenges. The key is to focus resources where they’re likely to have the greatest impact, and to partner smartly to expand your own capabilities. Let’s take a look at five ways that today’s retailers can align with—rather than fight against—the Amazon Effect.

While you won’t have as much data as Amazon, you likely have what’s necessary to deliver the right products and experiences at the perfect place and time.

Get Big

We all know there’s no competing with Amazon on scale. But that doesn’t mean that retailers can’t expand their merchandising footprints and greatly increase their chances of being in the places where consumers are most likely to be looking for their products. The key to getting bigger—without actually getting bigger—is to partner strategically. Such partnerships might include traditional affiliate relationships, and more novel partner relationships with publishers, influencers and even complementary brands.
Look for channels and entities whose audiences are a strong fit for your brands and products, but that offer an expansion, rather than overlap, of your existing audiences.

Get Mobile

If there’s one thing Amazon has perfected, it’s the mobile shopping experience. The impact of that great experience can be seen in rising user experience expectations—expectations that all retailers need to benchmark and deliver on today. A big part of that is streamlining mobile checkout, but it is also about examining literally every element of the mobile experience and eliminating unnecessary friction.
Many brands start by examining where users spend time and where they abandon the experience. From there the brand can prioritize their next optimization opportunities. Mobile partner publishers can also help you establish a stronger user base and deliver messages to users when they are most likely to transact in mobile. This actually reduces pre-store friction in your favor.


Get Personal

Thanks to Amazon’s wealth of consumer data, including prior purchase history, Amazon’s “you might like” modules tell customers about products they need that they didn’t even know existed. That sort of personalization is now expected of virtually every brand. It’s imperative that today’s retailers both gather and put to use every scrap of data on customer interactions they can, subject to the rules and regulations in their operating region.
Only by fully understanding a customer’s journey to date can brands hope to shepherd them to the next stage. While you won’t have as much data as Amazon, you will likely have what’s necessary to deliver the right products and experiences at the perfect place and time.

Get Trustworthy

On Amazon, consumers don’t have to take Amazon’s word that a product is reputable and will meet their needs. They have the word of their fellow customers, in the form of both reviews and questions asked and answered by the Amazon community.
Retailers can mimic these features, and they can also look to build trust by partnering with influencers. A trusted influencer is a powerful thing. The key is aligning with individuals who can speak genuinely to the audiences that matter to your brand, and in a way that resonates with them.

Oh…And Then There’s Prime

How many times have you heard people say, “Oh, when I need something I just go right to Amazon because of free shipping”? There’s no question that Prime premium membership has helped Amazon cement its central role in ecommerce. But now other retailers are creating their own premium membership programs that include “free shipping.” According to BI Intelligence, premium membership programs are helping some merchants drive bigger ring and more frequent shopping.

That said, you need to offer a broad enough range of goods that people see the value of getting free shipping and other benefits. Grocery retailers are having success here, as are retailers like Walmart/Jet and ASOS. In addition the area of home food delivery, an area Amazon has entered in the U.S., has seen Deliveroo offer a reduction in delivery charges via a monthly membership fee.

In unity there is strength

If premium membership seems like it might be right for your brand, why not test it? But if you don’t think you can make a compelling bundle for would-be members, perhaps it would make sense to offer some form of free shipping for orders of a certain value or higher. While the costs of free shipping can eat margin, if you don’t make the sale because the user chooses Prime, there’s no margin at all.


By recognizing the areas in which customer expectations have evolved, and partnering smartly to meet them, retailers can turn the competitive threat of the Amazon Effect into a competitive advantage and build stronger consumer—and partner—relationships that will fuel their brands for decades to come.

Partnerize provides a software-as-a-service platform for managing online marketing partnerships, such as with affiliates and influencers.