Smaller eCommerce Retailers Can Compete with Larger eCommerce Retailers.
With so much competition in online retail, it is no surprise that most small businesses lose out to their bigger counterparts. Large businesses give the fiercest competition to smaller ones due to their outright domination and economies of scale. Fortunately, there are ways small eCommerce stores can overcome the challenges posed by their larger competitors and still make it in the competitive online retail marketplace.
Dedicated Customer Service
In order to and outpace your competitors, it is important that you get obsessive with customer service. It would help to go the extra mile in providing top-notch service for customers. Offering value-added services to help customers find what they are looking for is a step in the right direction. Make sure you are easily accessible over phone, email, chat, as well as social media so that customers don’t feel ignored even as you grow. The dedication to customer service will resonate loudly with your current and future customers.
As a small eCommerce retailer, you cannot ignore customer feedback. Learning from customer reviews and quickly changing your product assortment will go a long way in giving you competitive edge. At times, changes may be needed in business processes in order to be more efficient and customer centric. Of course, keeping a track of what works and what does not is sure to keep you agile and ready to adopt needed changes.
Bonobos.com, an online clothing retailer, is one stellar example of an online retailer that was agile enough to actually listen to customer feedback. Upon customer requests, the online retailer opened physical stores in some cities for customers to try out clothes before buying. It was an instant hit! A large online retailer, on the other hand, would have had to spend a lot more time to assess if expanding into a physical store would help their sales. They would most likely be slowed down by their large decision making structure while a smaller business would already be making more sales.
Stock Quality Goods
Nothing can surpass quality when it comes to choosing between two products. Of course, customers look for cost-effective products that are both affordable and superior. Instead of offering similar quality products being sold by your larger counterparts, it would help to go a step further and offer “better quality,” which may include more innovative, better material products. These days customers are also attracted to goods that are less harmful to environment. In offering better quality goods, it is important that you offer competitive pricing in order to attract customers. Or you might like to offer products with distinctive features and functionality in order to justify the price. Think niche market.
Take a leaf out of the highly successful Frank & Oak’s book, another small eCommerce retailer that blends innovation and technology to produce highest quality men’s garments. Paying close attention to detail, customer satisfaction, and quality production, Frank & Oak has quickly expanded into a reputable eCommerce retailer from a small team.
As a small retailer, your focus should be on building customer relationships. Of course your marketing strategy should be directed toward attracting new customers, but not at the cost of existing ones. It is important to nurture your present customers by rewarding them for their loyalty and for becoming key elements of your brand promotion through word-of-mouth marketing.
Use innovative features in your loyalty program to encourage customers to stay with your brand. Offering special seasonal discounts, coupons, and referral rewards to loyal customers are some of the innovative strategies you could implement to retain existing customers, encouraging them to spread the word about you. While a small retailer will be more likely to adopt these marketing tactics, their larger counterparts will think twice before implementing these techniques.
To run an effective loyalty program for members to redeem their points, you could include early access to a sale, discounts, and buying products. Loyalty programs can become a massive hit with customers.
Relationship with Vendors
Most vendors are happier to work with small retailers than larger ones. Large retailers often squeeze vendors for very low-margin prices. On the other hand, small eCommerce stores show more respect for the vendor’s business and bargain for a lower cost than their larger counterparts, thus providing vendors healthy margins while giving smaller eCommerce retailers a huge competitive edge.
For a very simplistic example, say you buy blue shoes from your vendor at a cost of $25. A large retailer would demand those same blue shoes from the vendor at a cost of $20. If the blue shoes cost the vendor $15, they would have to sell a whole lot more, almost double, to the large retailer compared to the smaller retailer to make the same amount of profit. At the end of the day, the vendor would rather have more smaller retailers as clients because they would make more money off them and were a lot easier to deal with.
With excellent customer service and being agile enough to change products and policies based on customer feedback, smaller eCommerce retailers can improve their product range and quality to compete successfully with larger retailers.