It’s easy to mistake Amazon for a retailer. After all, the company, which was founded in 1995, sells more books and toys than any other retailer, and is projected soon to become the top seller of clothing and electronics. It now captures nearly $1 of every $2 that Americans spend online.

To think of Amazon as a retailer, though, is to profoundly misjudge the scope of what its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, has set out to do. It’s not simply that Amazon does so much more than sell stuff—that it also produces hit television shows and movies; publishes books; designs digital devices; underwrites loans; delivers restaurant orders; sells a growing share of the web’s advertising; manages the data of US intelligence agencies; operates the world’s largest streaming video-game platform; manufactures a growing array of products, from blouses to batteries; and is even venturing into health care.

Amazon’s dominance has been aided by Bezos’s grasp of how the seemingly wide-open web could be turned into a winner-take-all environment. In 2005, Amazon launched Prime, a membership program that provides free two-day shipping and other perks for $99 a year. As a stand-alone service, Prime is a money-loser; Forrester Research estimates that Amazon loses $1 billion a year on the shipping alone. The point of getting people to fork over $99 has never been about the money, though—it’s about the psychology. When people pay for Prime, they naturally want to maximize the value in free shipping they derive from it by doing more of their shopping on Amazon.

Although Amazon continues to earn relatively meager profits compared with rivals like Walmart and Apple, its stock price has soared, almost doubling in value over the past 18 months, make Amazon “a multitrillion-dollar monopoly hiding in plain sight.”

What’s interesting is the businesses that have been hit the hardest are big-box retailers. Everyone called 2017 the year of the “retail apocalypse” after Toys R Us, Gymboree, Payless ShoeSource, RadioShack, and The Limited all filed for bankruptcy. The Armageddon continued through 2018, with Sears, Brookstone, Mattress Firm, Claire’s, and David’s Bridal going bankrupt as well.

The heart of what’s happening here is that big retail chains are playing against Amazon in a game they can’t win, while small businesses are on a completely different playing field. Most companies will never be cheaper or faster than Amazon, so trying to win on that alone is a losing game. However, Amazon will never be able to connect with small communities and push forward social ideals, give shoppers personalized, memorable experiences, or sell unique, quality goods. This local aspect is where small businesses will excel.

Luckily, being small means that business owners can adapt to the changing retail landscape more quickly than older big-box stores can. Being small also means that small businesses can communicate with their customers on a deeper, more personal level, which will win out in an age where consumers are wary of major corporations and unsatisfied with generic experiences. For a small business, their size might be their greatest weapon against the retail apocalypse.