The Ohlmann Group is dedicated to remaining on the cutting edge of digital marketing, and we occasionally participate in webinars from digital marketing software providers to get perspective from other professionals. I’m particularly fond of GinzaMetrics‘ #FOUNDFriday web series, hosted by Erin Roberts O’Brien, where the topic du jour was SEO and content strategy for the holiday shopping season. During the discussion, one particularly interesting point was raised: to what extent does Amazon comprise the entirety of online shopping? Last year, Amazon’s online sales were exceeded those of Staples, Wal-Mart, Sears, Office Depot, Best Buy, Macy’s and Target — combined. Their success largely stems from their position as an “omni-channel” retailer, meaning they are not tied to any specific product line. Stated bluntly: Amazon sells so much because Amazon sells everything.
I challenged myself to think of some things you won’t find on Amazon, and I have to admit it was no easy task. Here are three product categories that won’t be lining the warehouse shelves of the “everything store” anytime soon. The consequence being, these are also categories that will need to rely more heavily on content and branding to make sales. They can’t just expect the customers to come to them, like some famous products on Amazon.
Can you sign for this? It is hard to imagine buying a dog or cat online, though the service does exist. Thankfully, Bezos’ retail powerhouse has thus far steered clear of putting living creatures up for sale. The Internet is the most popular method for finding breeders and adoptable animals, but most sites limit are limited to research. Any breeder worth their salt isn’t going to send you a prized pup by mail (to say nothing of the SPCA).
It is surprising that Amazon hasn’t moved into this territory along with other e-commerce sites like Groupon. Perhaps this sector of the economy is just too local for an multinational business. Because most service businesses are localy focused, the need to build a strong brand and be found online is driving a scramble for search engine optimization and digital marketing. Not only do service companies need branding, they need it to be grounded in great service too. The other side of the online revolution for services is an explosion of review sites. There is no way for a company to grow, even if they are highly visible online, when potential customers are confronted by a wave of bad feedback.
Or any craft good for that matter. I just bring this one up because there is so much of it (andbecauseIamahugenerd). Custom-made, blank label and one-of-a-kind goods are the wave of the future and the coolest stuff going. They also happen to rely on strong online communication with customers. Content and branding can turn a basement sewing table into a viable national business. Often, the owners of these businesses become the brands themselves. They’re latter day folk artists. These small-time retailers are the driving force behind America’s newest economic revolution. They’re poised to do to every product category what craft brewers did for beer. Plus, there is no way to get officially licensed merchandise featuring the soon-to-be new Doctor before Christmas. Alons-y! [SPOILERS]