Today, the benefits of using ecommerce as a way to establish an online presence, attract customers, and drive conversions and sales have transformed ecommerce from a rare luxury to a necessity for today’s businesses.
With the Internet becoming ever more saturated by the day with ecommerce websites and options for buying, the challenge of capturing the attention of consumers arises. Giants like Amazon and eBay are able to compete by using algorithms to shift prices based on customer demand and competitors’ prices. What can small(er) businesses do to compete?
- Bring something new and innovative to the table. This one’s a no-brainer. In an over-saturated market, an exclusive product is your best bet for increased online visibility. If your product isn’t available on Amazon, then potential customers are encouraged to visit your website instead. Rather than relying on an established marketplace, “serve the vacuum” and provide a product that is truly needed.
- Make customer service a key strength. You have an advantage over big business: you’re not big business. Your business is likely small enough to be able to provide personalized, one-on-one service and for your customer service staff—whether you or your employees—to build relationships with customers. It’s simple—and it should be—it’s a relief to frazzled customers accustomed to being on hold and trying to express their needs to automated voices, and it’s one of the best ways to build brand loyalty.
- Do the work in narrowing down key words. Try using specific phrases (“Rose Gold Hoop Earrings”) instead of more general ones (“Gold Earrings”). Generic keywords are more expensive and produce less sales, whereas more specific phrasing directs customers directly to what they need. Try different combinations of key words and use Google Adwords to track which generate the most sales.
- Add a personal touch. It sounds like a well-worn cliché, but, again, this is an opportunity for you to take advantage of your position as a smaller, lesser-known business. People buy at Amazon, for example, and receive what they order. Perhaps customers who buy at your store receive something extra: decorative stickers, postcards, a tool to clean the product. The delight of receiving something unexpected goes a long way in capturing consumers’ attention.
- Think sustainable. Once you have acquired a customer, don’t lose them. Keep them in the loop on new products, sales, or suggestions for additional items they might find useful. Make your customers loyal, returning customers. Customer retention is as important as capturing the attention of new customers.
The last quarter of2016 has begun, and eCommerce continues to grow.
Manufacturers with established brands and loyal customers are rapidly shifting dollars in their online marketing budgets to focusing on getting products and services to customers as directly as possible. eBooks materialize on tablets within seconds of purchase. Online stores boast wider selections than companies offer on location. A “shopping cart” has become a tab on a website. Currently, ecommerce sales grow at a rate of 9-10% each year in the U.S., and 18-19% a year worldwide according to industry trackers. Take advantage of this booming marketplace—and don’t be discouraged by the big, bad corporate giants.