Amazon, which is undeniably the largest online retailer in the US, did not start out as the powerhouse it is today. Founder Jeff Bezos launched his business as a fast and efficient way to sell books. Obviously, the company later expanded its portfolio to pretty much anything and everything a consumer could ever want. Amazon Competitors beware!
Today, because of sellers like Amazon and Walmart, carving out your own real estate online is tough. But just because it takes work does not mean it can’t be done. Here are a few ways you can get off the proverbial porch and run with the big dogs.
Know what people want and how they search for it
The vast majority of consumers search online before making a purchase. They will Google their intended items to check for pricing and read customer reviews. As a seller, it’s up to you to know what they’re looking for and how they search. This is done with strategic keyword discovery. Moz explains that there are keyword research tools you can use to help you narrow down the field. For example, if you sell basketball shoes, you enter that as a term, and your program lists the most common searches related to these, along with other pertinent information, such as the number of times they are searched and from which location.
Run your business efficiently
is not enough just to know what your customers want; you also have to give it to them quickly and without hindrance. Amazon does this by having a global team of customer service representatives and a seemingly endless army of dedicated delivery drivers. You likely won’t have the budget for that, but there are ways to be efficient and effective. One idea is to ensure all your employees and vendors stay on the same page. You can do this by recording meetings and downloading them to an MP3.
You can then share what was said or have it transcribed for a small fee. Consider also maintaining open hours when it’s convenient for your customers. This might be a bit of a pain, but extending the time that you answer the phone or respond to emails by a few hours earlier or later can save you the time of having to make follow-up calls. You’ll also run less of a risk of losing customers who want answers immediately.
trust and brand awareness by leveraging the big guys
phone calls and talking to your customers creates trust. But, there are many other ways to do this well before your first interaction. The first is to sell your products on the mega-platforms. Amazon Marketplace and Walmart each offer seller services where small businesses can list their wares. If you are a service provider, you might also have a chance to get on Amazon via Amazon Services. Be cautious here, however, that you do not send customers to your website from these platforms as this could be a violation of their terms and can get you banned.
You might also try to get your product into retail stores. This takes research, and you must first know the store’s needs. You might have to network relentlessly for months and refine your branding until your logo, packing, and products are unmistakably noticeable. American Express further asserts that you’ll also want to start small, possibly at independent retailers and then work your way up to the national market.
try to compete on price
is obviously important. If consumers cannot afford your product, they won’t buy it. But a shift in customer mindset indicates that only 38 percent of shoppers view price as more important than quality. What this means for you as a small business owner is that you can compete by providing products that are simply better than the competition. For example, if you are selling jewelry, make sure yours is packaged better and is made of nicer materials than that of the most similar competing maker.
your customers that their information is safe
many customers believe is that their information – credit card numbers, address, etc. – is safer with large corporations. Depending on how your information technology infrastructure is set up, this might be true. But you can create trust by doing things that help you avoid data breaches. Make sure all your computer systems and devices are running the most up-to-date software and, perhaps most importantly, encrypt everything.
American Family Insurance further suggests keeping only information that you must have and using physical storage for things like USB drives and hard copies of sales orders.
more than one way to pay
cards are not the only way you can accept money online. More than half of all consumers expect payment options, whether that is sending a check, using PayPal, or setting up a direct bank draft.
involved with your local community
the thing you have that Amazon doesn’t is a connection to your hometown. Leverage it. Get involved by doing things like sponsoring sports teams or participating in or hosting community events. Not only does this put your brand out into the public, but it also connects a face to your business. This also goes a long way toward creating trust.
Cater to a niche market
Big companies tend to target all consumers. If you want to stand out, you have to find a niche. What this means is that you identify a very specific need and then you fill it. You do this by solving a problem for underserved consumers. It might be something as simple as offering delivery in a rural area. The point is to know what your customers need and give it to them. Make yourself an authority on a particular type of product.
Once it is known that you are the “go-to” for, for example, jeans for plus-sized women, then your customers will return again and again and will let their friends know about their seamless shopping experience.
Ultimately, whether you can compete with Amazon and its ilk comes down to service. That’s where you have an advantage. While you might never become a billion-dollar e-commerce empire, you don’t have to sit in the shadows. The above tips can help you shine a light on your business and gain and maintain the success you’ve worked so hard for.
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