The Key Ingredient for Small Businesses to Compete with Amazon

Ideas Alive

The following blog posts are from students in Introduction to Innovation to Entrepreneurship at Muhlenberg College. This is our laboratory space where we play with ideas. If you have arrived at our site as a visitor please feel free to look around and comment.

As I stated in my introductory post, Amazon’s incredible success is largely due to it’s simplicity and convenience, along with it’s impressive inventory and selection. While it may be perceived that as a result, Amazon dominates e-commerce, this isn’t necessarily true. I am really interested in researching some smaller companies to see what their techniques are for competing against Amazon, how successful their efforts have been, as well as some struggles they may be facing as well from competition.

For this post, I chose to research Blue Apron, an ingredient-and-recipe meal kit service. Considering that Amazon recently bought Whole Foods and have therefore now stepped into the food industry, I was curious to see how a company like Blue Apron is adjusting their company and products to be able to continue to stand up to new competitiors. The executive officer of Blue Apron, Matt Salzberg, said that the company is keeping its focus on home cooking and related products, in an effort to diversify themselves. The company provides all of the tools needed for cooking at home, including all necessary ingredients, recipe books, and cookware.

Not surprisingly, the company did come across some difficult times in June when Amazon acquired Whole Foods. As a result, Blue Apron faced delays with its fulfillment center, had to put a hold on hiring new employees, and was forced to cut down on the marketing budget. A potential concern for the future is that Amazon has shown interest in creating its own meal-kit product and has a significantly larger budget than a smaller company such as Blue Apron to do so.

Based on research I have completed, as well as going off of my knowledge about companies of various sizes, small companies are special in their own ways. Each one has a certain uniqueness to it that can’t be replaced by a giant such as Amazon. It may take smaller companies that don’t have hundreds of employees longer to really figure out what it is that keeps consumers coming back to purchase their product, but in time they will. Even though Blue Apron was negatively impacted by Amazon’s big purchase, it can be seen as a good opportunity for the company to take a step back and look to see what strategies they have used up until that point to remain as successful as they have.

In short, even though Amazon did pose challenges for Blue Apron when they acquired Whole Foods, Blue Apron’s service is very specific. They have a solid customer base that likes their products, and therefore will keep coming back to purchase them. Amazon doesn’t know where Blue Apron gets their recipes from or how they design their cookware, which allows Blue Apron to be able to survive, even against a company as large as Amazon.

I am looking forward to continuing researching other small companies, seeing what their niche is, as well as if they have been affected by Amazon, if at all. I think it may also be interesting to research Amazon’s influence on smaller companies. For example, perhaps since Amazon is known for it’s convenience, maybe some smaller companies have begun developing apps or other simple ways for consumers to easily make purchases without having to go anywhere.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-13/blue-apron-ceo-says-home-cooking-focus-protects-it-from-amazon

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 The Key Ingredient for Small Businesses to Compete with Amazon

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