David vs. Goliath: How Your Small Business Can Take Down the Amazon Empire

More and more small business owners are facing an uphill battle to compete with Amazon. Check out this article to learn how you can take advantage of holes in the ecommerce giant’s armor.


The battle between David and Goliath has entered the online arena.

In this corner, we have David, a highly motivated and savvy small online business owner. In the other, we have Goliath, a highly powerful and heavily funded ecommerce giant.

With billions of dollars, thousands of workers and a behemoth brand name at its disposal, Amazon is, without a doubt, the biggest player in the industry. In fact, after acquiring Zappos and heavily investing in LivingSocial, one could say that Amazon has indeed established itself as an ecommerce empire.

So how do you, the little guy (or gal), compete with Amazon when it’s calling the shots?

It’s simple – take a page out of David’s book. Here’s how:

Accept that Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla

Just like David understood Goliath to be a formidable opponent, you too should accept that Amazon is a mammoth player. By accepting and understanding the magnitude of Amazon’s presence, you’ll be better equipped to leverage your own strengths on the battlefield.

From millions of customer reviews to millions of advertising dollars, Amazon has a slew of resources that propel its success. By understanding what Amazon has that you don’t, you can start drawing up a battle plan that promotes your strengths while exposing Amazon’s biggest weaknesses.

In other words, David didn’t try to muscle up to be more like Goliath – instead, he grabbed his handy slingshot and went with what he knew best.


Embrace being small

Thousands of years later, people still tell the story of David’s victory. Why? Because he was small. And people like other small people (trust me, I barely clear 5’8”), especially when they’re facing a larger opponent.

In terms of modern consumer behavior, we’re seeing a trend in which shoppers like to purchase from local, smaller merchants – it gives them a sense of fulfillment by helping the economy and giving something back to the community. This presents a perfect opportunity for you to embrace your role as a small business and use it to your advantage.

To get started, here are some simple ideas to help showcase your smallness:

Being small is powerful – don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage.


Personalize the experience to establish unwavering brand loyalty

I’ll speak for myself here, but I’ve rarely met someone that shops with Amazon because they’re in love with the brand. Convenience, product selection and low prices, yes, but brand loyalty, not so much. This means that if you can become a fan favorite with your customers, you’ll have a major advantage over Amazon and other big-time retailers.

Personalized brand experiences serve as the best mechanism for your small business to establish this type of unwavering loyalty. If you can make customers feel like they’re your only priority, you’ve upped the chances of having them return to your site.

Here are some ideas on how you can truly personalize your customers’ experience:

Despite Amazon’s large team of customer service reps and its epic marketing budget, nothing can replace a personal connection between buyer and seller. By taking the extra time to truly make your customers feel appreciated, you’ll establish a strong bond that grows into unwavering brand loyalty.


Focus on product specialization and expertise

Imagine this scenario: you find a beautiful piece of art that would look perfect in your living room. Before you buy, you have the opportunity to speak to the painter. She introduces you to the piece, details her inspiration and walks you through each brushstroke. Once her detailed explanation is over, you have the ability to ask questions and shake her hand. After it’s over, you have a much deeper appreciation for the product now hanging in your home.

You can provide this same type of product appreciation to your customer base by showcasing your expertise. To do so, try the following:

It would be next to impossible for anyone, even a Goliath, to demonstrate true passion and expertise for a product line that ranges from art to janitorial supplies. Take advantage of this chip in Amazon’s armor by beefing up your informational arsenal, and work to share your dedication with your customers and the world.

Support a worthy cause

David’s camp truly believed that he was fighting the good fight, which is why it’s such a legendary story to this day. Your small online business can do the same by supporting a worthy cause, whether it’s a charity, non-profit organization or other cause that you believe in.

If you’re new to working with charitable causes, give these ideas a chance:

Supporting a cause that’s dear to you and your customers reinforces the same advantage your small business has over the Goliath: customers want to make purchases that make them feel better about themselves.

Don’t compete on price, but do what you can

Because of Amazon’s huge popularity and limitless product offering, they can afford to accept razor-thin (or even negative) profit margins to provide low prices. This means that if you’re hoping to compete against Amazon on price, you’ll be facing a steep uphill battle. Despite this challenge, you can still find ways to help reduce prices to stay competitive.

Doing so comes down to cutting costs, and yes, doing some math:

The main idea here is to reduce your prices enough so they’re somewhat comparable to Amazon, while leveraging your overall added value to justify the extra cost your customers might encounter. Remember, David didn’t need an expensive bow and arrow to take down Goliath – all he had was a few stones and his sling. Pick the right tools, and you too, have a fighting chance.


Believe you can compete with Amazon

Just as David trusted in a higher power to help him fight Goliath, you need to believe in your inner entrepreneur to help compete with Amazon. If you accept a defeatist attitude that “Amazon is too big, I can never do it,” you’ve already lost the war.

Instead, celebrate your victories, reflect on your losses and always look for ways to improve your small online business. After all, you’ve worked hard to get where you are today, and you’re bound to reach new heights as you continue to climb the wall of success. Don’t give up, don’t give in, and don’t get down on yourself.


Competing with Amazon is no easy task – it requires diligence, hard work and savvy marketing. But just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean it’s impossible. All you have to do is take advantage of the bountiful benefits that come with being a start-up organization.

It’s good to be small. Just ask David.

Happy selling!
-Matt Winn, Volusion

Matt Winn

Matt Winn was Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helped oversee branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce.