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It’s happening. Millions of boxes with scraps of the Amazon Prime tape are filling up waste and recycling bins across the country. However, these are the lucky boxes that made it to the finish line. The ones that arrived in 48 hours and held something special enough to keep. Pour one out for the returned items.When you need to buy something, rather than driving around town crawling with shoppers and bad drivers, ordering online is a beacon of light. Add free shipping to that convenience and you have yourself a deal. With ecommerce brands like Amazon Prime, you can order items pell mell, receive them in 48 hours, and return them all with little to no effort.

Ecommerce has significantly changed the way we live. The perks are everywhere, especially this time of year. “Free shipping!” “Free returns!” The benefits are countless on the consumer and business side alike. While we don’t know what we would do without ecommerce businesses, perks offered from companies like Amazon Prime enable lazy behavior from consumers.

Below are three behaviors ecommerce businesses like Prime enable:

  • Fishing… then clicking. That is, going to small businesses to do research and fish around, then purchasing online. This takes advantage of the expertise of the employee of the brick-and-mortar store and the hands-on experience we’d all like before we make a purchase.
  • Free rental company. We were all raised to tell the truth. But buying an item, using it, then returning it isn’t anything new to retailers. However, companies like Prime take away the human interaction that might be keeping people from doing so. Other than some down-home honesty, what’s stopping consumers from buying all their holiday decorations online, then shipping them back on Dec. 26 at no cost?
  • Dressing rooms delivered. Instead of heading over to the Nordstrom Rack a few minutes away, consumers can get a plethora of sizes, then return whatever doesn’t work. A convenient dressing room, maybe. A waste of packaging, fuel and labor, definitely.

If consumers continue getting used to consequence-free behaviors such as above, how can small businesses that can’t offer ecommerce perks such as these keep up?

Local retailers still hold clout with consumers. There are things local businesses can do to stand out to their consumers:

  • Leverage the “local.” Ecommerce reigns when it comes to convenience and price, but fun in-store experiences and kick-ass service build valuable relationships with consumers. Free coffee? Jars of dog treats on the counter? Whatever your vibe, you can really capture a local audience.
  • Build a community. Loyalty programs and content marketing (like opt-in newsletters) can leverage relationships with shoppers with rewards and perks. Give them a reason to support your local business.
  • Be social. Fight fire with fire. Build an online and social media presence for your local business that reflects the awesome in-store experience. Retailers that have an active Facebook community of users and host special events can build a unique following. Shoppers will never gather in person with all their like-minded Prime shoppers.
Laura Oxler

Laura Oxler

Laura began her career as a content producer, bringing a creative, positive spirit to every brand. She finds energy in the strategic side of ideas and has since made the move to the Strategic Insights team, focusing on creating content rooted in strategy while she waits for her acceptance letter from Hogwarts.
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