I regularly hear people complaining about Amazon. They are afraid that Amazon will eventually completely dominate their market to the point that there won’t anything left for them. It’s true that Amazon is a beast that is trying to consume as much as possible, but there are certain things that they will never move towards because it doesn’t fit their model. If you’re living in fear of Amazon every day, maybe you should diversify by going into some of these markets.
A while back I had the opportunity to listen to an Amazon VP discuss the Amazon business philosophy. All the executives over there are mathematicians and programmers, so they want to automate every aspect possible within the business. As a result of this they think of a customer contact as a “bug”. The idea is that the service should be so good that the customer should never need to contact Amazon. If anything Amazon will want to move further in that direction as they continue to scale. So armed with that knowledge, what fields will Amazon not compete in?
1. Custom items. Custom items typically have long lead times, require more customer support (proofs, swatches, etc.) and aren’t returnable. These things are Amazon’s worst nightmare. They will also typically require a more complicated purchasing interface which is harder to automate.
2. Made to order items. Though not necessarily “custom”, there are a lot of products that aren’t manufactured until the order is placed. These are typically high end products that are manufactured by small companies. Seek them out and add them to your selection.
3. Items that are illegal in a small section of the US. Amazon won’t sell something if it’s illegal somewhere. So for example, it’s illegal to sell crib bumpers in Chicago, so you can’t sell them on Amazon period. Browse the list of forbidden products and start picking up new categories!
4. Used products (depending on the category). Amazon doesn’t want to fuss with many used products. That’s typically Ebay’s domain anyway. So if you have access to a lot of used inventory you really have a chance to grow unencumbered by Amazon’s market share.
So if you’re looking to survive and thrive in the Amazon era, adding some of these categories might help you sleep at night!