For today’s web-savvy entrepreneurs, establishing a business presence online takes only a few dollars and a few minutes. There are sites for hosting eCommerce, designing logos, writing copy — for handling all aspects of a globally accessible company. However this creates a business paradox: while it’s easier than ever for organizations to get started in online sales, it’s harder than ever to compete and succeed in online sales.
Dan Reich, writing for Forbes.com, offers five tips to help you excel in eCommerce. This advice is garnered from several top-tier e-merchants and it can make a difference in how you seek success.
1. Niche Differentiation
Fact: If you’re selling something that Amazon can sell just as well, then it’s likely that Amazon will win out. But the opposite is also true. There are things you can do that Amazon can’t replicate and therefore can’t compete with you. Reich describes these areas as industries with “high degrees of differentiation and low degrees of uniformity”. His quotation from Olga Vidisheva of Shoptiques.com anchors that idea even further: “Your offering must stand out and have a point of view.”
This isn’t a matter of having a unique color scheme on your eCommerce site (although more on that in moment). Instead it has to do with the products and services you offer. For example, Amazon can’t sell custom-designed, hand-made jewelry or clothing. It can’t sell the experience of working with you on a customer’s unique order. And while the eCommerce giant can sell industrial air filters, it can’t keep up with your installation services and scheduled replacement offerings.
Whether you’re in wholesale distribution, professional services, or light manufacturing, it can be a good investment to spend some additional time developing your unique product offering.
2. Logistics Excellence
The pressure from Amazon isn’t limited to the types of products you sell. Your customers have shopped on Amazon, so they know how user-friendly an online purchase process can be. This means you need to provide a similar level of service. It can be difficult to match Amazon’s shipping options, but if you manage expectations effectively, customers will be pleased when they get exactly what you promised to deliver.
The package that arrives can be another way to set yourself apart from large, generic stores. A perfectly correct order is vital, but if you can also provide an un-boxing experience that is unique, you’re one step closer to the niche differentiation mentioned above.
3. Omnichannel Outreach
While your eCommerce site might be where the orders come in, that doesn’t mean it’s the only place where you engage with potential customers. Whether you also run a brick-and-mortar store, a dynamic social media presence, or an engaging app, customers should recognize your company. The design aesthetic should be consistent, helping users feel like they know who you are and they can trust you with their business. Repeat purchases and customer loyalty are crucial in the digital global-market.
4. Consistent Connections
Taking advantage of the omnichannel in another way, you need to be sure that each business site, whether digital or otherwise, includes cross-promotion. Your email campaigns, apps, social media posts, and company offices should all make reference to each other. Each avenue is a way you can serve your customers better, learning what their needs and interests are, then helping satisfy them.
5. Continual Improvement
The digital marketplace is constantly developing. New tools are being created and existing services and products can become more affordable as your company grows. Keep your organization open to taking advantage of the best opportunities out there. The specific path you take will be as unique as your business niche, but the key is to be learning and re-investing in your small business growth.
As Olga Vidisheva says, “It can be difficult for a small business to really make an impact online, even when it has a beautiful site.” At first your growing company may seem like it is dwarfed by eCommerce giants and lost in the crowd of other small organizations. But with persistence, long-term planning, and smart use of the best practices like those explained above, success in your niche is a very real possibility.
When you see increasing momentum in your organization, it becomes important to re-invest in tools that will sustain your progress and even accelerate it. Business operations software can quickly create dividends in your resources, streamlining and automating chores so you can focus on more valuable tasks. aACE 5 is a five-star ranked solution for your accounting, CRM, and ERP needs. When you’re ready to enhance your business velocity, we’re eager to talk with you about how we can help.
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