According to Forrester Research, online sales in the United States are expected to reach a remarkable $523 billion in the next five years, up 56 percent from 2015. Forrester also estimates that approximately 270 million shoppers will be shopping online by the end of the decade.
Because a lot of new business owners are gravitating to the overall appeal of starting an ecommerce business, competition is becoming much tougher. Here are five ways you can beat your ecommerce competition.
1. Establish a Niche
It’s not always a good idea to sell everything you can in the world of ecommerce business. Small to medium-sized businesses that participate in niche markets online have more engaged and loyal customers than their competitors. They create niches based on their audience’s interests, fears, aspirations, lifestyles, and needs.
For instance, if you sell skin-care products that have the same ingredients and benefits as your ecommerce competition, it can be difficult to stand out from all the rest. However, if you offer products made of ingredients with unique health benefits, such as organic cocoa beans, it will be easier for you to create a demand for your specialty product. You’ll weed out the competition that only offers chemically based products that don’t provide a unique health benefit.
2. Don’t Rush Launching Your Site
With immediate access to millions of potential customers, it’s tempting to launch your site as soon as you can, regardless of what it looks like or where you are in the development phase of your ecommerce business.
If you want to stay ahead of your ecommerce competition, be sure to do the following before you launch.
- Have a solid marketing strategy that includes consistent branded messaging and omni-channel experiences across online platforms that your customers already frequent.
- Determine your average customer’s entire path and timeline with steps you expect them to take along the way. The path starts with how they will encounter your brand online and ends with how and when they will receive their products.
- Know how customers will reach you with complaints or concerns and how you will handle them. This could make or break your online reputation in the beginning.
- Verify that the speed of your ecommerce platform is up to par with what your customers expect and are accustomed to on other sites. Also, ensure that your site is easily accessible and responsive on mobile devices.
- Choose which analytical tools you will use to monitor user history, purchase history, feedback, and other customer data so that you can adapt to it as quickly as possible.
3. Instill Brand Loyalty
You can instill brand loyalty with your prospects and existing customers online by engaging with them through a blog and social media content. Find your unique voice and value proposition as an ecommerce business, solve a specific problem, or enhance the lives of your audience in some way. Do this without trying to sell them something every time you share a post.
Additionally, give your existing customers what they want to secure their loyalty with you instead of with your ecommerce competitors. If you receive repeated requests for free shipping, for example, then give it to them. Even if you only offer free shipping on promotional items or for limited time periods, they will notice when you give them what they want, and they’ll likely buy more and share their experiences with others.
4. Strategize Your Pricing
It’s easy to only focus on getting new customers when you run an ecommerce business, but you should invest in retention strategies for high-value customers too. Implement loyalty programs or bonuses for your best customers. They will be reluctant to switch brands once they’ve accumulated a certain amount of rewards points because they don’t want to lose out on special offers or discounts they’ve earned.
When setting prices, keep in mind that you don’t always have to have the lowest price either. Customers buy for many reasons. While price is commonly one of those reasons, you shouldn’t compete exclusively on price. A good point to remember in order to stay ahead of ecommerce competition is that customers are willing to pay more for things such as higher-quality products and better customer service.
5. Stay Educated and Ahead of Trends
Always be aware of new technologies and trends that have relevance to your ecommerce business, and know which ones your competitors are using. Customers expect ecommerce sites that load quickly and are intuitive to use. If they can’t navigate your site because of outdated technology, then they certainly won’t feel comfortable inputting their credit card information.
If you stay educated and ahead of trends in ecommerce, you’ll be aware of the best ways to enhance your ecommerce platform, market it effectively, and build loyal customers who trust your brand. This will keep you ahead of the ecommerce competition.