How to compete with Amazon—specialize.

Many ecommerce website owners feel like they’re embroiled in a David against Goliath fight. They have to compete with giants like Amazon, AliExpress, and other major players in their particular field. It doesn’t seem fair and it’s often not easy to stand against the biggest online stores and win a portion of the relevant traffic.

When we look at statistics, things start seeming a bit scary. In 2017, Amazon accounted for 43 percent of US online retail sales. This marks a significant increase from 2015, when it produced 33 percent of the ecommerce sales. Nearly 52 percent of US consumers go directly to Amazon when they want to shop online. The customer loyalty is amazing and things seem doomed right from the start for the small players in the field.

small ecommerce

But this isn’t necessarily the case. Fresh ideas and niche specialization are two of the factors that can help a small ecommerce site stand out and eventually develop its own market of loyal customers. A third factor that makes it possible for small online retailers to turn things around and experience a massive advantage is technology. Below, software consultants from ecommerce development company Iflexion share their ideas on how to leverage the power of technology to win customers. But first, let’s talk about specialization.

Choose a Niche

Ecommerce giants have one primary weakness that is also their biggest strength—they offer consumers everything they could ever want. As a result, such websites lack specialization. People who want to explore a wide array of quality products within the same field could be missing opportunities.

Specialization is the number one rule for ecommerce success if you intend to run a relatively small online retail platform.

It’s necessary to become an expert in the area. Specialization is the answer to establishing your reputation and authority. Once you have authority as an expert in the field, people will turn to you when they need products and services.

Even if it’s simple in design, your ecommerce website should feature tons of practical and niche information like:

  • How-to guides
  • Whitepapers
  • Video tutorials
  • E-books

This content will direct targeted traffic to your website. When you offer something valuable to potential customers, you will boost brand awareness. This is the number one step towards generating a bigger number of sales.

Speed, Convenience and a Stellar UX

If you are doing one thing, you have to do it perfectly.

Today’s online shopper is short of patience. Prospects have become spoiled due to the large abundance of options at their disposal. In other words, if your ecommerce website isn’t doing a stellar job, potential buyers will look for a similar product elsewhere.

The design of your ecommerce website and the user experience (UX) matters a lot. If your website isn’t currently performing optimally, you may want to consider a redesign. In this article, we discuss the value of UX in ecommerce in more detail and suggest particular ways to make your website UX impeccable.

Apart from a good ecommerce experience, you may also want to focus on speed and efficiency in terms of order confirmation and product delivery.

If possible, negotiate a shorter delivery period or have your own delivery crew. Even with Amazon Prime, free shipping still requires two days. Some small ecommerce websites have begun giving their customers same-day delivery for purchases made before midday. This is a nice perk that a giant cannot make available and it will help you stand out.

In order to accomplish such a goal, you should focus on integration between your ecommerce platform and your retail (POS) software. When information is communicated immediately, processing will occur in a wink.

It’s also a good idea to enable buyers to pick up their purchase from a brick-and-mortar location. This way, you’re offering your clients flexibility, and flexibility is something they like.

Nurture Relationships Through Loyalty Programs and Bonuses

In order to keep your clients, you have to show them just how valuable they are. The best way to accomplish the goal is through a loyalty program.

A reward for customer loyalty could come in the form of a discount, a coupon, or an exclusive product selection to which only loyal ecommerce shoppers will be entitled. People like to feel special in their relationship with a brand. This is where you can capitalize.

A points system that will result in eventual bonuses or a cash discount is also an excellent choice. Such a system stimulates multiple purchases and it will kick the competitive spirit of the respective buyer into gear.

Create a Sense of Community and Sell with a Purpose

If you can sell with a cause and a purpose, you will definitely add value to your proposition. Ecommerce giants cannot do the same thing because they are conglomerates. They feature dozens of products but there’s no back story, no mission statement. Needless to say, this is one of the ways in which you could differentiate yourself.

Tom’s Shoes is an example of a smaller ecommerce website. The promise here is that with every item you buy through the website, you are helping a person in need. For each pair sold, a pair of shoes is donated to someone who needs them. This promise creates a sense of purpose and it also gives the buyer a feel-good vibe. No corporate giant can rival such a cause and ensure customer loyalty this way.

Here’s another great example—Rent the Runway makes it possible for women to rent high fashion dresses that they can’t afford to buy. Not only does the website have a mission, it also fills a unique market niche that hasn’t been occupied by any of the ecommerce giants.

These efforts can be taken a step further through the creation of a community. Solid social media presence, good customer support, and listening to what clients have to say will show prospects that their input matters. But once again—this is only the beginning. Some small ecommerce websites have taken these efforts even further.

Bevel is an ecommerce website that starts with a unique concept—it features shaving products for men with curly hair. On top of that, people who purchase through the website get a handwritten note with their package from the owner and founder of the company. This example shows that something as simple as a thank you card can make a buyer feel special and appreciative of the personalization.

On a Final Note

To sum it up, you have to work towards an omnipresent, seamless online experience for your clients. Focus on convenience, speed, and ease of completing a purchase. Concentrate on customer service and pampering your loyal clients as well. You can benefit from the establishment of an emotional connection—something that the ecommerce giants cannot do. Following this advice helps establish a relationship with every single person interested in the brand.