How Retailers Are Surviving by Following the "Amazon Playbook"

By Melissa Duko, April 11, 2018

The Amazon effect is in full swing and the retail apocalypse is taking no prisoners. For many brick-and-mortar brands, it’s a tumultuous time. They feel like they’re getting it from all sides.

But clearly, stores aren’t dead otherwise Amazon wouldn’t be opening them. So, perhaps it’s time for brands to adhere to the old saying, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

Here are a few brands following the "Amazon playbook," and some are even beating Amazon at their own game.

Bebe Is Going All Ecommerce

Several fashion retailers have been dying off the past couple of years: Delia’s, Wet Seal, The Limited, Payless, Bebe... Wait, not so fast. Bebe is rising from the dead thanks to their pivot as an ecommerce only retailer.

Related Post: We’re Going Google Shopping

Like Amazon, they realize they can still sell clothes without the brick-and-mortar overhead. And to ensure they still have a presence in their customers’ lives, they’re engaging with their customers on social media.

Here’s an example of an online ad shared on Instagram and Facebook that reached more than 8 million people. Bravo, Bebe!

Bebe_Instagram_.pngSource: Fast Company

Other retail brands that are on the brink of bankruptcy may still have a chance if they follow Bebe’s lead (inspired by Amazon).

Simon Malls Are Pitching Their Retail Space to Startups

While Amazon is going after traditional stores like grocers, malls are headed in a different direction. Instead of focusing on attracting dinosaur anchor chain stores, they’re pivoting to offer short-term tenant deals to startups, as a way to deal with brick-and-mortar closings.

CEO David E. Simon of Simon Property Group is seeing an explosion in food startups, fitness, wellness, and cosmetics. He feels malls provide a great opportunity for a new local business to have a presence in the community.


Source: Boston Globe

Brick-and-mortar that’s well-located is still integral to a successful omnichannel platform. Customers still want the ability to try a product in person (especially if it’s new), or swing by after work and restock. That’s something not even two-day shipping can touch.

Walmart Is Stepping Up Their Delivery/Pickup Game

Retailers have been trying to keep up with Amazon’s convenient shipping (and now ‘Instant Pickup’) for quite some time. But no one has been as successful as Walmart.

Related Post: 4 Ways Brick-and-Mortar Can Profit With Mobile

Walmart Grocery.jpg

Source: Chain Store Age

Not only does Walmart also offer two-day shipping, they’ve taken curbside grocery pickup to the next level. You can opt for same day order, same day grocery pickup. Amazon doesn’t even offer same-day grocery delivery, at least not yet.

Best Buy Is Using In-House Experts   

Best Buy has rebounded from the “showrooming” phenomenon, where shoppers see the product in person and then order on Amazon. How? By offering superior in-store customer service (and pricing the product the same as Amazon).

Geek Squad.jpg

Source: Travel Pulse

Best Buy has something that Amazon doesn’t: a Geek Squad. The Geek Squad provides customers with expert assistance during complicated purchases. So, sure you can get that same surround sound system on Amazon, but will you know how to hook it up correctly? The Geek Squad does.

Nordstrom Is Offering Reserve Online, Try on In-Store

Taking a cue from Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe, Nordstrom is offering the option to reserve online and try in-stores.

Nordstrom Seattle.jpg

Source:  @NordstromSEA

Shoppers will also have the option to scan an item in-store and then fulfill the order online. It’s a great feature for when they find a product they like, but the physical store doesn’t have the color or size they need in-stock.  

L’Oreal Is Focusing on Keyword Research

9 out of 10 consumers check Amazon first for a product. And 38% of all beauty searches start on Amazon.

Related Post: 3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Search Volume (And Why You Should)

L’Oreal is planning to use Amazon as a source of keyword inspiration for their skincare and luxury goods. They realize while consumers may search for beauty, they’re not necessarily buying the products from Amazon. Smart move, L’Oreal.

L'Oreal Boutique.jpg

Source: L’Oreal


The brick-and-mortar evolution has been a long time coming. Amazon may be a trailblazer for efficient, customer-friendly service in the digital age. But these brands who are following suit, are experiencing equally successful results, too.

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Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko is the Senior Editor and Digital Specialist for Anura. She brings to her role more than a decade of journalism and editing experience. A graduate of the University of Delaware, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, concentration business and technical writing, minor Art History. She also has a Master of Science in professional writing for the public and private sector from Towson University. She isn’t afraid to admit that her love for Starbucks is at gold member status. (Since 2011!) More Articles by Melissa Duko