These days, it is often said that in order to survive as a retailer in any capacity, you need to get yourself involved in the ecommerce revolution. But at the same time, it hardly escapes your attention how the ecommerce landscape is already completely and utterly dominated by certain leading brands. The long and short of it being that regardless of what it is you want, there’s a strong chance you will be able to pick it up from a household name online.
All of which appears to leave very little space for smaller online stores, given the David and Goliath struggle the underdogs face. But as far as the experts are concerned, all hope is not lost. Quite to the contrary, as there are various ways and means by which working smarter and with more focus on what matters can help any online business avoid annihilation by the online ecommerce giants.
Just a few examples include:
1. Don’t Rely on Low Prices Alone
It’s worth remembering that most consumers these days value other aspects of the service package over and above low prices. Outstanding customer service, ridiculously reliable delivery times or simply a business with an ethos and story they can connect with. Surviving in the face of such an adversity means focusing on what it is precisely that makes your brand both awesome and different from rivals. Low prices alone simply aren’t enough.
2. Become a Service Provider, Not a Vending Machine
What this basically refers to is the way in which some websites exist like glorified online vending machines, while others are incredibly rich and useful, informative and engaging content. The difference being that the vast majority of consumers respond considerably better to the latter – so does Google and the other major search engines. As such, it’s important to make all necessary efforts to build your brand and your business around so much more than products alone. You need to become an all-round service provider and an authority your customers turn to for more than simple purchases alone.
3. Get to Know Your Customers
Loyalty schemes are both important and effective, with eMarketer having recently revealed that around 55% of consumers admitted their spending decisions are influenced by such programs. Nevertheless, it’s once again important to go above and beyond the norm, in order to remain as competitive as possible. Carry out surveys, provide regular e-mail updates, request thoughts, opinions and reviews, find out what their priorities are and what turns them off. Getting to know your customers at a more intimate level is something you can and should be doing as a small business – something the biggest business simply cannot orchestrate.
4. Stay Social
Last but not least, you should use every scrap of information you come across with regard to your customers when it comes to the content you produce and your efforts to maintain relationships. One of the most important pieces of the puzzle is that of staying social – as in making maximum use of your social media accounts and creating one cohesive online presence. It’s not the like the CEO of say Amazon has the time nor the inclination to get directly involved in discussions with customers via Facebook. As a much smaller and more personal business, it is very much something you can do and therefore should be doing.