The Huge Opportunity for Independent Businesses – Weekly Loop #13


Weekly Loop #13

The Huge Opportunity for Independent Businesses

It often feels like Amazon’s dominant position in ecommerce is cemented. While they clearly a big lead and a growing market share, it’s worth remembering ecommerce makes up just 10% US retail sales. Worldwide, the figure is even lower.

In the US, ecommerce as a percentage of retail sales, has grown slowly and steadily every single year since tracking began in 2000. As more of all retail spending goes to ecommerce, it doesn’t have to be through Amazon, or other giant marketplaces.

There are huge opportunities for new organizations, or “semi-public groups” as Seth Godin wrote this week in assessing changing opportunities. Tyler Cowen wrote in defense of Amazon this week, saying they are not a monopoly. One reason he cited was that they aren’t leading in any one category, outside of potentially AWS. While at first hard to believe, it also presents an opportunity.

The key is not to compete head on with Amazon, but to dominate in a way they can’t to become the leader in a given category or niche. Look for ways to do things differently.

The number of tools, services and resources available to sellers is really quite impressive. While your shop may not be able to offer two-day free shipping to everyone, there are plenty of options for last-mile delivery, same day delivery, or reduced international shipping rates.

And not all customers want that. In fact, many consumers prefer to shop with independent brands directly. It’s up to independent brands to take advantage of the opportunities and give consumers better choices.



Take a look at an excellent standalone ecommerce shop for inspiration

Knockaround makes great-looking afforable sunglasses in a handful of styles. I’ve worn their stuff for years and can honest say they are my favorites for every day use.

The Knockaround site is built on Shopify, and from the very top of their homepage, it’s apparent exactly what the brand is about – sugnlasses, sunshine, and fun. The homepage presents a handful of options for shopping, making it easy for new and returning visitors to find what they need.

With only a few styles, they reduce potential indecision issues. Instead, more variety is put into the colorways, which are numerous. They regularly feature special editions, providing scarcity to products that otherwise are always available in “standard” colors.

The site includes a number of customer photos with sunglasses, providing great social proof. With a free shipping threshold of $50, Knockaround encourages customers to purchase more than one pair. And to provide some authority/trust, they’ve included some easily recognizable partners’ logos.

Another great example worth checking out to get ideas for your own site – or shopping for some sunglasess.

Recommended Links


Each week, we read and watch articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, books and more related to ecommerce. We share some of our favorites links on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

In our weekly updates, we pare the links down to our favorite seven links from the past week.

Have a suggestion of something to include? Get in touch.

“There’s a huge opportunity to become an organizer of semi-public groups”

Seth Godin Seth Godin’s Blog on marketing, tribes and respect

“The interesting phase that’s happening more and more, and is amplified by the blockchain, is the semi-public/semi-private world. This is a group of people (perhaps a tribe, even) that are connected to one another (insiders) but the riff raff (outsiders) aren’t invited.
These semi-public groups can work together in ad-hoc or permanent teams to create new work of value.”1


Hmm… “Consumers want to see companies that are hard for others to compete with. Otherwise, they are just getting more of the same”

The rant against Amazon and the rant for Amazon
Tyler Cowen Marginal Revolution

“Third, if you consider markets product line by product line, there are very few sectors where Amazon would appear to have much market power, or a very large share of the overall market for that good or service.”2

we’re skeptical: Amazon launched a new portal it’s calling Storefronts to celebrate mom-and-pop shops and other smaller merchants”

Amazon launches Storefronts to give 20K small businesses a bigger spotlight
Ingrid Lunden eCommerce – TechCrunch

“Amazon has had a complicated relationship with small businesses over the years: on one hand, it’s long been a channel for them to sell goods online to a wider audience; but on the other, some have lamented giving over too much customer “ownership” to it in the name of sales, and not being able to stand out and present their brand and products in anything other than Amazon’s format.”3

“Merchants will be able to use the tools to upload 3D models of their products, which users will be able…to view in their real-world environments”

Shopify is bringing Apple’s latest AR tech to their platform
Lucas Matney eCommerce – TechCrunch

“Augmented reality has a lot of potential to change how e-commerce operates as users feel like they can gain better impressions of what the physical goods they’re buying will look and operate like in real life. With phone and tablet-based AR, the challenge is cluing users into the fact that these features exist, while also making them more worthwhile than gimmicky.”4


“62% of small business owners feel their paid Facebook advertisements aren’t reaching their targets”

How to Use Lifetime Value to Create a Facebook Audience That Actually Converts
Neil Patel Quick Sprout

“Don’t be discouraged if your past Facebook ads were unsuccessful.
The ads you were running may not have been the problem. You were probably just not targeting the right audience.
One of the best ways to improve your audience is by integrating your customer lifetime value data. This is one of the most important pieces of information you need to use when it comes to running any type of marketing campaign.
Simply follow the step-by-step guide I’ve outlined above to create a custom audience with your customer lifetime values.
Once it’s uploaded to Facebook, you can continue running ads the same way you did in the past. Only this time, you’ll be much happier with the results.
How is your company creating custom audiences on Facebook to drive conversions?”5


“Instagram is embracing its true identity as a mail-order catalog”

Instagram Shopping gets personalized Explore channel, Stories tags
Josh Constine eCommerce – TechCrunch

“The question will be how much power merchants will give Instagram after seeing what its parent Facebook did to news outlets that relied on it. In a move that could pit it against Pinterest and Wish, Instagram is launching Shopping features across its app to let people discover and consider possible purchases before clicking through to check out on the merchant’s website.”6


“However, Amazon said that this is not an “Amazon” brand – it’s a new exclusive brand to Amazon”

Amazon takes on The Honest Company with an exclusive brand of eco diapers, Earth + Eden
Sarah Perez eCommerce – TechCrunch

“The Honest Company touts its diapers’ super-soft, safe, gentle, hypoallergenic, and most importantly, sustainably-sourced materials, as does the Earth + Eden diapers’ product page.
The Amazon diapers are described as:
Cruelty free – not tested on animals; Made with SFI Certified sustainably sourced fluff; Printed with non-toxic water-based inks; Produced in a Zero Waste to Landfill Facility”7


“You need to use other platforms to sell your products.” Perhaps “leverage” would be a better phrase.

How to Increase Your Ecommerce Product Sales with Shoppable Posts on Instagram
Neil Patel Quick Sprout

“Instagram has 500 million daily active users, and 80% of all Instagram accounts follow a business profile.
This is great news for you and for your ecommerce brand.
Your current and prospective customers are not only active on this platform but also willing to engage with your brand.
In fact, 60% of Instagram users find new products through this social platform, and 75% of users take an action after viewing a post.


“Postmates does say that it’s completing “millions” of deliveries every month and is profitable in 90 percent of its markets”

Postmates raises another $300M, reportedly valued at $1.2B
Anthony Ha eCommerce – TechCrunch

““The transformation of how commerce moves in cities demands that we build the most innovative tools for businesses to keep up and distribute their products to the modern consumer — efficiently and cost effectively,” said Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann in the release. “Postmates is proud to be the first and largest on-demand network that is enabling the growth of retail across the country, and today’s investment accelerates our ability to pair technology with the vitality of our neighborhoods.””9

  10. Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Andrew @ EcomLoop
Are you looking to start or grow a standalone ecommerce shop? I help independent businesses achieve success on the Shopify and WooCommerce platforms. As the owner of multiple ecommerce businesses, I've had the opportunity to get experience with nearly every aspect of the ecommerce industry. I started EcomLoop to help other quality independent businesses using my knowledge and experience. To stay on top of new ecommerce developments, I publish The EcomLoop Weekly Loop, a blog and email newsletter with original thoughts and curated links to help independent businesses improve their businesses.