Innovating in B-to-B Outside of “Kill Zones”


Amazon is entering more and more markets with both a distribution presence and in some cases, a private label product line. It is critical that all manufacturers begin to think about innovating beyond the Amazon “Kill-Zone.” The kill-zone has increased in size, and, in some cases, has completely taken over certain markets. While it is expanding in size and strength, we have found ways that manufacturers can avoid this life depraving, oxygen starving superpower with strategic initiatives and guidance from market research insights. Here we present four things to keep in mind when innovating in an Amazon dominated world.

  1. Do not take on Amazon directly. They will win. The best brands do not try to take Amazon on directly; find your niche and exploit it with ways that Amazon will not, and cannot, compete. Business brands that succeed have found ways to list their products online with a holistic approach to customer service, often bundling warranty, service, and customizations all into their online offering. You must look for ways to create connection that Amazon cannot and will not do with your business audience.
  2. Create fun, experience, and entertainment with your B-to-B brand. By definition, Amazon will not promote or create any emotional attachment to your brand above and beyond your listing within their site. Livestreaming from your facility once a week, after-parties in your vertical’s trade shows, and finding ways to create an emotional attachment to your customers will set you apart. Find ways to reward your top customers. Generate goodwill by giving back to industry-specific charities and philanthropic groups.
  3. Personalize your business products or tools, with an ability to scale. While Amazon is excellent and personalizing the entirety of consumer’s tastes – you can personalize within your segment far better than Amazon. Yes, Amazon can carry your products, but they will never be able to effectively personalize product selection for customers beyond the basics. Find ways to personalize your engagement with your customers by offering customizations, customer service follow up, and in person contact throughout the entire experience.
  4. Actively pursue your detractors. There’s one type of review Amazon will never capture – the review from someone that didn’t purchase your product. This is without a doubt your number one tool – search out the world of your potential purchasers and survey those who bought your competition. Why did they not buy from you? Capturing feedback from your detractors will help you break out of your comfort zone in so many unpredictable ways.

Your true measure of success comes from your ability to create steady, organic growth with no reliance on advertising or third-party storefronts. Focusing on ways to innovate outside of the traditional FANG kill zones will set your company up for long term success.