What Big Online Retailers Don't Want You to Know
Are you operating a small or medium-sized online retail store? Have your
ecommerce efforts been thwarted by a big online retailer? If so, take
heart! Things aren't as bad as they might seem. In fact, instead of being
intimidated by the big online retailers – you should welcome the
opportunity to compete with them! Here are some things that they won't
tell you that could give you a real advantage when trying to gain more
ecommerce customers at their expense.
Here are some of the things that the big online retailers don't want
smaller competitors to know that they're saying behind your back:
"We're concerned that you can look just as big as us online"
Think about it – for all the time, money, resources, and energies
that go into the website of a large online retailing operation –
they still have most of their traffic landing on their home page. It's
the same with you, the small online retailer. When a potential online
buyer looks at your home page, they can easily think that you are much
larger than you really are. How do you tell the difference between a one-person
operation, a ten-person operation, or a large retail site? It's hard –
even for professionals. One key point here: make sure that your home page
design and layout measure up to the current standards of professionalism
in the industry today.
"You might be better at reaching a niche audience"
Giant online retailers need to reach giant audiences in order to achieve
their sales goals. For the most part they aren't even interested in a
smaller niche audience. Large online retailers are looking for search
terms and advertising buys that will attract the largest possible pool
of potential buyers to their site. You, on the other hand, can be far
more selective in your choice of products offered, keywords targeted,
and where you choose to advertise. In addition, you can select target
audiences who may purchase more expensive products in smaller volumes,
or who will be much more loyal buyers and repeat purchasers.
"We can't deliver personalized service like you can"
Similarly, the larger the company, the harder it is to give truly outstanding
and personalized service. As a small online retailer, you can actually
get to know your customers. In fact – you must get to know your
customers in order to keep them from straying to a larger competitor with
lower prices on the same items. There are so many different and unique
ways to really embrace your buyers! Here are a few: send an extra special
little gift each time someone buys; collect your buyers birth dates and
send them a birthday present on that special day; keep their information
in a special place so that when they contact you they get a personal response
in the fastest possible time; note buyer preferences and send them a personalized
note informing them of new products that are of interest to them. You
can think up many more ways to give personalized service for your site
if you spend some time pondering it.
"You can rank higher in key search engines than us"
Some large retailers have a great search engine marketing and search
engine optimization strategy – many do not. A great leveler of the
playing field with regard to online buyers is your search engine presence.
You will gain market share at the expense of the large online retailers
if you rank higher than they do on key search terms at key search engines.
Make certain that you understand and implement professional search engine
marketing strategies. Study search engine optimization techniques. Understand
paid inclusion programs. Gain expertise in pay per click marketing engines
such as Google AdWords and Overture. When buyers use search engines to
look for your products and services make certain that your results are
visible – whether in paid or organic listings.
"Our online operations are a neglected step-child in our company"
A huge advantage that the smaller online retailer holds is simply the
focus on the business and the commitment to success. Most online retailers
were ‘bricks-and-mortar' players long before their forays into the
online space. Therefore, all of their operations were originally developed
for an offline world. Further, the original ‘bricks-and-mortar'
component of the company may actually be jealous of the fast growth and
success of the online retailing component – leading to internal
bickering and power struggles. One thing is for certain: both the small
online retailer and the larger online retailer have had approximately
the same amount of time to develop experience in online selling. Purchasing
via the Internet is still relatively new – and there are many differences
between selling in a physical store and selling in a virtual environment.
The small retailer can work these differences to their advantage. So even
a prestigious and long established offline retailer may actually be playing
catch-up when it comes to online retail.
Action items for the smaller online retailer
To compete against larger retailers keep the following competitive tactics
in mind. Develop a professional web site and make it look just as inviting
as the big player's sites. Consider focusing on a specialized or niche
audience that is likely to be overlooked by larger retailers – simply
because the market is perceived to be too small. Differentiate by offering
superior, personalized service. Make your customers so happy that they
begin to talk about you to others. Master search engine optimization and
search engine marketing techniques – or hire professionals to help
you achieve top search engine rankings. Embrace online operations and
take advantage of the all the possibilities that the Internet offers to
increase your sales. Good luck with your online ecommerce ventures!
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