With giant online retailers like Amazon, Zappos, and even
eBay constantly expanding their reach, it can seem like there’s no room for
smaller e-commerce sites to grow and thrive. But, having a few really big fish
in your pond doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be profitable… or that you
can’t actually outsell them.
While it’s true your business might not have the resources
they do, or the established customer base, you’re probably going to enjoy one
advantage that the others can’t – you can focus on one market or industry while
they have hundreds (or thousands) to stay on top of. In other words, you can
dominate your niche without having to worry about competing with everyone else.
You don’t have to beat them at everything, just the game you choose.
Leveraging that advantage takes a bit of strategy and an
adjustment to your mindset, but it can
be done. In fact, there are lots of small e-commerce retailers out there who
are competing, and winning, against much bigger competitors every day. Here’s
what you can do to follow their example:
Don’t try to outspend
another business when you can’t. Simply pushing up bid prices on
pay-per-click ads, for example, isn’t likely to work over the long term. All
you’ll do is create a bidding war that you’re almost bound to lose. Think about
spending better, not bigger.
Consider pricing very
carefully. The same goes for lowering prices. If you’re going up against a
major chain and trying to underbid them, where do you think that’s going to
lead in the long term? There’s a reason these companies can sell products for
insane prices during a Black Friday sales push – they have the extra cash to
burn if it means winning a customer.
Find ways to add
value for customers. When customers visit your big competitors’ websites,
they’re probably going to find low prices mixed with generic product
information. One way you can set yourself apart is by giving “value-added”
services. These could include customer reviews, videos, product comparisons,
and other types of content that buyers won’t find elsewhere. These can be worth
more than you might think in a customer’s mind.
marketing. For as popular as the biggest businesses might be, buyers don’t
usually have much loyalty to them. They’ll take their business elsewhere if
they can find a lower price or a better deal. Smaller companies, on the other
hand, can use a little more personality in their marketing, developing fervent
fans and followers every day. Often, these men and women will “root for” a
smaller competitor and keep buying from them even if it costs a little more.
Don’t merely accept it as a given that you can’t compete
with the Goliath in your market. You might be surprised at what you can do to
draw customers in, and keep them coming back, to your e-commerce site if you
just give them a good enough reason.