Amazon continues to rule the online marketplace, constantly investing in new, innovative verticals, highlighted by its pop-up stores and Amazon Go storefront buzz. Add Amazon Prime to the mix and suffice to say, the omnichannel shopper has been under its thumb for quite some time. Successfully competing against all the retail giant has to offer has been difficult, to say the least.

Until now (cue dramatic music).

An Unexpected Competitor Emerges

Bed Bath & Beyond isn't just beds and baths, folks -- and the company wants to make sure you know that. This summer, it's beta-testing its version of Amazon Prime early, called Beyond+ -- a compelling program and strategy that could actually work. Here's why: 

1. Price

Where Amazon Prime now has an annual subscription cost of $119/year, here's what Beyond+ will get you: 

  • a price point of $29/year for an annual subscription
  • 20 percent off your entire purchase
  • standard shipping for that year (standard coupon exclusions apply)

Compared to the annual membership fee for Amazon Prime, which just increased from $99/year to $119/year in May 2018, the Beyond+ membership will pay for itself by earning you that money back after just one purchase over $150. 

2. It's a bold strategy

Long gone are the days of hoarding all BB&B coupons, since the stores honor the discount even if it is "expired" just to get 20 percent off on most items from your in-store or online purchase. This bold strategy to extend the 20 percent discount to include the entire purchase, is more of a Hail Mary attempt to compete in the long-term e-commerce war

However, with nearly 100 million U.S. subscribers, Amazon Prime sits atop the throne by offering a significant amount of benefits that span across shipping, streaming, shopping, reading, and household membership sharing. Bed Bath & Beyond better hope its end justifies its means. 

3. It sends a powerful statement

As difficult as it is to stay afloat when competition is as fierce as Amazon, Walmart, and Target -- all off which have reputable incentives to reel customers in -- Bed Bath & Beyond is making a powerful statement to remain competitive. 

The 20 percent discount is incredibly strong but also quite a risk to BB&B -- and it says that it's willing to take a significant margin hit to reinforce its commitment to relevancy amid a retail apocalypse, which is something I give it a lot of credit for. 

The jury is out if Beyond+ will actually carve away at the army of Amazon loyalists, but at the very least, it sends a strong message to Amazon that retailers are clearly willing to implement bold strategies in order to stay competitive. 

Sometimes the threat is not in the spear you hold, but in the fact that there is someone there holding a weapon. Slay, Bed Bath & Beyond, slay. 

Published on: Aug 2, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.