Independent Bookstores vs. Amazon – 7 Tips To Compete

With online retail giants like Amazon tearing their way through the book market, you might think that independent booksellers are shaking in their boots. However, according to the American Booksellers Association, the opposite is true. Independent bookstores are thriving and reason is quite clear.

Visiting a local bookstore provides a unique experience that you simply don’t get from purchasing a book online. There’s an inherent sense of community and goodwill associated with purchasing a book in your local bookstore. These feelings and experiences cannot be mirrored online.

However, that’s not to say that independent bookstores shouldn’t be proactively searching for ways to build and maintain their advantages. Here’s some simple ways in which your bookstore can continue to compete with and out-do Amazon:

1. Love Local

Engaging with your local community is a key activity that will differentiate you from large, faceless corporations. Sponsoring local events, stocking locally produced books and collaborating with other businesses within the community are just a few simple but highly effective ways to engage with your local audience.

Word of mouth is an extremely powerful tool when it comes to increasing footfall in your store. Focusing your efforts on getting to know your customers and building relationships with them will result in a loyal community of buyers over time.

2. Go social

Social media has transitioned from being a fad to being a mainstay of any store owner’s strategy.

Independent bookstores need to remain in their customers’ mind space consistently. Therefore, having a robust social media presence is essential.

Keeping your customers updated via social media on everything that’s happening in your business helps remind them of what you offer and prompts them to come straight to you when they need to make a purchase next.

It’s also a great way of highlighting any special promotions, new stock and fun events that are happening in store.

3. Get Found On Google

One place where the online giants consistently win currently is in their rankings on Google and other search engines.

Currently, most bookstore retailers rank number one when you search for their store’s name. However, even if someone is 50 feet away from them searching for a product they stock, they find the large players like Amazon and eBay:


Pointy helps solve this problem. As soon as you plug our little box in, we’ll build a page online with all your products.

This means that, for local searches, the results will look more like this:


This ensures that people who are searching for your products nearby can find them, and drives them directly to your store from these searches.

4. Have a better online experience…

Having a robust online experience is essential in this day and age. A simple one-page website with an overview, address and contact details just isn’t enough when you’re competing against giants like Amazon for customers.

Having a live catalog of your in-stock products online not only helps drive new customers to your store but also lets your existing customers check what you have in stock, prompting them to return to your store instead of succumbing to the convenience of Amazon.


5. ..But have an experience you won’t find online

Providing your customers a truly authentic in-store experience will give your bookstore the upper hand over online giants. Comfy chairs, eye catching displays and helpful staff are just a few little elements that will make your store feel more welcoming and cosy.  

If you have the space you could even go a step further and incorporate a small cafe into your bookstore. By doing this, your store has the potential to become a community meeting point where locals come to relax, catch up and browse through your books.

6. Host Events

Book readings, musical performances and author meet-and-greets are all excellent ways to attract customers to your store and increase engagement within the community. Human interaction is an area in which large online retailers like Amazon fall down massively. Therefore, it’s important for independent bookstores to excel when it comes to hosting events and communicating with customers.

Doing small things like providing food at the event and offering discounts to attendees can have a very positive impact on your store’s image among community. It signifies your shared goal of making the neighbourhood thriving success.

7. Keep in touch with customers

Actively maintaining communication with customers throughout the year, even when they’re not actively looking for something, can have huge benefits for stores.

Keeping them informed of hot products, new stock and sales you’re running are great reasons to get in touch and compel them to visit.

Building an email list of visitors that you regularly update is a great way to do this. This is especially important for prompting customers to make spontaneous purchases.

Pointy is a little box that you plug into your cash-register that automatically builds an online store of all your products. Click here to learn more about how your store can use Pointy to drive more customers and get found online.

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