Competing with the Big Players in E-Commerce

by Lois Leonard

4 min read

Running a successful e-commerce store is a daunting task, especially with all the competition already on the market. It’s natural to wonder how you can compete with the juggernauts of online shopping, including Amazon.com, Walmart and the many other retailers that offer a massive selection of low-priced products that they ship to your door free of charge. Fortunately, you can take steps to even the odds and carve out your own share of the market.

Specialize in a Niche

To get consumers to choose your store over a big box store, you need to separate yourself by offering something different. One of the disadvantages larger online retailers have is that because they sell so many products, they’re unable to specialize in anything. When you focus on a niche, you can better serve a specific target market. One option is finding products that those big box stores don’t offer. Is there a certain product that you’ve had trouble finding online? Other consumers have likely had the same problem, and this provides you with the opportunity to provide a solution. Even when selling products that big box stores already offer, you can still stand out if you find an innovative way to sell those products. Warby Parker is an excellent example of this. The store sells sunglasses, but it puts a unique spin on sales by offering free trials that allow you to try multiple pairs of sunglasses and then buy the pair you like the most.

Create High-Quality Content

Content marketing is an excellent way to build your brand and bring organic traffic to your site. Videos, articles, and infographics all work well for spreading the word about your store. The key is creating content that is entertaining, useful, or both. For entertaining content, look no further than Dollar Shave Club, which burst onto the scene with a video ad. While most companies make videos, Dollar Shave Club’s went viral because it wasn’t just some generic ad — it was actually funny. The company took a risk, and it paid off. You can also build your customer base by providing content that your potential customers can use. Since larger retailers have a wide range of products, they tend to provide only basic information about those products. Customers who want to buy workout equipment can do so through many online stores, but how many of those stores provide exercise plans? By writing fitness articles for your store, you can attract more customers and create brand loyalty.

Charge More

You’re going to have a hard time competing with large retailers on price. With the number of sales they make, they can afford to cut prices and survive with a small profit margin. You can’t expect to win a race to the bottom. Instead, invest in quality products, and cater to high-end customers who are willing to pay more. People often associate higher prices with higher quality. When you charge more and have quality products that justify those prices, you make greater profits on every sale.

Invest in Your Website

Too many business owners spend too little time designing their websites. As a result, they end up with sites that look generic and aren’t optimized for conversions. Your site is one of the most important factors in your business’s success. It needs to have a design that makes a great first impression and is easy to navigate so customers can find what they want quickly. Think long term when you build your site. You can save money now by choosing a free theme that thousands of other websites are using and buying a logo from someone on Fiverr, but you aren’t setting your business up for success. Hire the right people to build a site that fits your brand and that functions well. Consider the up-front cost an investment in your business.

Provide Excellent Customer Service

You may not have nearly as many customers as the big-name retailers, but this gives you the opportunity to provide superior customer service with a personal touch. The customer service experience at larger stores is often full of canned lines that make people feel like just another number — think “Thank you for contacting us” and “I apologize for your inconvenience.”Every interaction your business has with a customer, whether it’s by phone, email, or social media, is a chance to build a relationship with that person. Listen to your customers, and create a culture of engagement. You may not be able to respond to every customer personally, especially as your business grows, but you can make sure that all your customers feel appreciated. Both large and small e-commerce sites have their own inherent strengths and weaknesses. To have a successful store, you need to take advantage of the benefits that a smaller operation provides. You may not be able to beat the big players at their own game, at least when you’re starting out, but you can set up a site that appeals better to a specific market.

References & Resources

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