Ecommerce is changing the face of retail. While shoppers are steadily more comfortable buying everything from socks to lawn care products online, carving out your niche can be daunting, especially if you want to stack up against big retailers like Amazon. However, although you might feel like your small business is a dark horse in the competitive world of retail, you can hold your ground and achieve success with a handful of clever strategies.
Online shopping holds a solid portion of consumer spending, and in fact, some statistics indicate a steady increase in e-commerce every year for the past decade. With 2018 online sales topping $517.36 billion, ecommerce snagged 14.3 percent of the retail market. Some calculations indicate that a giant portion of those sales went to Amazon, and while it might seem like competing with mega-retailers is out of your league, there are ways to catch more customers and win them over so that your business becomes their go-to destination.
So how do you attract the attention of shoppers when they already have a well-worn path to a retail giant like Amazon? It all begins with a top-notch website.
Do you have a website that’s not drawing much business? Or, is it an oldie-but-not-so-goodie, something you pieced together with the help of a friend who dabbles in computer stuff? Rather than allowing your website to keep limping along, or worse, doing without one, investing in someone who creates beautiful, functional websites for a living can dramatically improve the customer experience — which, of course, translates to more sales. There are web designers you can hire on contract to do the work. However, as Upwork explains, it’s important to find a web designer who thoroughly understands the many different popular platforms, has a good grasp of UI design (different menus, forms, and call-to-action buttons, for example) and can work closely with you and your team to develop an easy-to-use interface.
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If the world of computers and web design is foreign ground, the process of hiring someone can feel pretty challenging. To get you started, HuffPost suggests that there are key questions to ask potential designers — things like whether they guarantee their work, if everything is done in-house, and whether you’ll have access to the files later on. Do a little research, ask plenty of questions, and treat the decision like you would any of your other business dealings.
While your website is still a gleam in your eye, start thinking about how you’re going to draw the attention of customers. Consider building anticipation with a pre-launch marketing campaign, and toot your horn every place you can. Network about what you’re doing — talk things up everywhere, from the local chamber of commerce to trade shows and the vast world of social media. People love to chat about the latest and greatest thing, and your business should be it!
Having a terrific website gets your ecommerce store off to a great start, and creating buzz gets people thinking, but how do you attract shoppers and keep them coming back? To develop your plan, think through your strengths and weaknesses, particularly in light of your competition.
Every negative has a positive side, so for example, while you’re clearly smaller and less well-known than a megastore like Amazon, you can think of your size as an asset. You can offer a more personal, tailored experience to your customers through things like contests, engaging personally through social media, and outstanding customer service. Small Business Trends recommends tools that take those advantages to the next level, streamlining your approach so you can be more effective and productive. Your internet real estate will be brimming with virtual foot traffic before you know it! Just make sure you’re ready for the deluge.
Gone are the days when it was sufficient to offer a brick-and-mortar establishment. To be competitive against online shopping giants, you need a top-notch website, solid customer engagement, and to capitalize on your strengths. Amazon might be a mammoth retailer, but with a few bells and whistles of your own, you can give them a run for their money.
What are you doing to compete against the ecommerce giants of the world? Leave me a comment below.
Stacey Riska, aka "Small Business Stacey" is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small - and not so small - businesses one marketing plan at a time. She helps business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients/patients, MORE sales, and MORE profit. Stacey's in-demand "Small Biz Marketing Success Coaching and Mastermind Program" is transforming the businesses - and lives - of those who want wealth, freedom, and market domination. Her highly acclaimed book "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" lays out the 6-simple-step plan to get your marketing into ACTION - literally and figuratively. Stacey is also the creator of Cups To Gallons, the place where independent coffee, smoothie, juice bar, ice cream, dessert and snack shop owners go to learn how get into lucrative catering so they stop selling by the cup and start selling by the gallon. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn't!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
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