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Is Collaborative Commerce the Rebel Alliance Answer to Amazon’s Empire?

As Amazon’s empire continues to march steadily toward growth with no sign of stopping, it may seem more and more intimidating to smaller businesses. 


But rather than being forced into oblivion, the incredible success of Amazon should instead motivate sellers to push back and continue competing.


Be inspired by what Amazon is doing well, and look for gaps you can fill for consumers. What can you offer that Amazon can’t?


“Judge me by my size, do you?” — Yoda


It’s true that Amazon takes up 45% of the e-commerce space in the U.S. alone, but with 24 million other online stores, the competition is strong with this one—especially when you consider the various reasons to not shop with Amazon.


Although Amazon offers more products than there are people in the U.S., there are still several significant categories untouched by the giant. This leaves the door open for more niche stores to swoop in and flourish.


When you consider that Amazon itself has 9.7 million sellers across the world, it becomes apparent that its greatest strength is in the army it has built. So if you are one of the 24 million outliers wanting to take on the giant, your best chance is to form your own battalion.


It often helps to consult companies that specialize in helping you optimize your business—companies like VTEX, which facilitates marketplaces not only B2C, but B2B, making it easier for businesses to find each other and streamline their websites, supply chains, product assortments, and other aspects as well. Known as collaborative commerce, this model allows you to find the right tools to execute anything you need to accomplish.


You may not even know what your store is missing until you discover another company that can provide the services you need to make your business boom.


“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view” — Obi-Wan Kenobi


In addition to offering what Amazon can’t, take a look at some of its perks that you can replicate. According to a 2019 Feedvisor survey, 83% of Prime members chose “Free Two-Day Shipping” as their favorite benefit of the subscription. Although Amazon continues to press the gas on its speedy delivery, raising expectations for e-commerce sellers everywhere, the simple allure of free shipping is enough to entice a lot of customers.


Customers don’t seem to care how they get free shipping, as long as it looks free on the checkout screen. Everyone knows at this point that “free shipping” is an illusion, only made possible by hidden costs elsewhere, such as that pesky $119/year Prime subscription that’s so easy to put out of mind once spent. It’s less about the actual price, and more about the unwelcome surprise of an extra fee, making the product more expensive than they originally planned on. This causes a whopping 86% of shoppers to abandon their carts just because of unexpected shipping costs.


Don’t worry, there is more than one way to skin a womp rat. If you’re worried about increasing all your prices to compensate for free shipping, you could instead create an order minimum that customers have to reach to qualify for free shipping. This method is extremely successful, with 93% of shoppers saying they would add more items to their cart to receive free shipping. You can also save money by outsourcing fulfillment, once again strengthening your mission through collaboration.


“We had each other. That’s how we won”
— Lando Calrissian


One of the most obvious reasons to deal with Amazon is that it’s a one-stop-shop for just about anything you can think of. This is something that individual brand websites just can’t accomplish. Everyone simply wants convenience, and consulting a bunch of different stores is inherently inconvenient. The best solution for smaller businesses is to band together—create conglomerates, sell on each other’s marketplaces, form alliances.


This will not only help the war on big business as a whole, but each store and each product to gain visibility, as 97% of online shoppers browse marketplaces before purchasing an item. Pooling resources will result in a smoother experience for customers while still being able to feel like they’re supporting a small business; after all, 83% of shoppers would prefer to support a local business than a big corporation, even if they have to pay more.


By partnering with one or more other businesses, you can lean on each other for different needs, ultimately being able to lower your costs and offer customers what they want. Oklahoma ice cream shop owner Landon Ferguson found this to be true when the pandemic hit and he had to close up. Ferguson was not one to be outdone by a pesky virus, though, and with his brother, Layne launched a new venture called CITYBOX.


People from all over the nation could order an experience in a box, such as the Stuck-at-Home Box, and receive several goods from all different local vendors in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas. While finding a way to find success for themselves, the Ferguson brothers were also able to boost fellow business owners, and provide entertaining evenings for customers who couldn’t go out to eat anymore.


“Let’s keep a little optimism here” — Han Solo


Customers want to support small businesses, but it needs to be convenient for them to do so. Collaborating with other stores to provide a holistic shopping experience benefits everyone involved. The more partnerships you form, the more opportunities will be opened up, and you can all blast off into hyperspace together.