If you’re a small business owner and have found yourself exhausted in the competition against big box retailers, you’re not alone. But, if you think it’s impossible to compete against the big guys and win, you’re wrong. Keeping your ecommerce store relevant and profitable can be quite the feat, but with the right know-how, practices, and insights, you can see growth and success in your business — no matter the size.
So, where do small businesses even start when developing a strategy to compete against big box retailers? You can’t compete with their customer scope or price points, so what do you have to offer?
Offer high-quality, specialty options.If you’re a small business, trying to compete with large retailers on a range of selections will only set your company up for failure. You simply don’t have the same capacity as your competition, and that’s okay. Instead, leverage your ability to offer specialty products that aren’t available anywhere else.
Your ability to deliver exclusive products is distinct to being a small business. Where larger retailers can offer hundreds of the same item, you can offer unique items that attract and retain customers. As a small business, you can also offer goods and services that are much higher quality than big box retailers — keep this in mind as you continue to build your brand and market your business. Consumers want items that are truly valuable, and they’re willing to invest a little more in something if they’re convinced it will last.
Deliver exceptional customer service. This one should be a given for any company, but the reality is that small businesses are better built for offering customer service that goes above and beyond customer expectations.
As a small business, the ability to make special connections with your buyers is in your DNA. While larger retailers are often spread thin across their customer base, you can dedicate a significant amount of time and energy into building customer trust. This trust relies heavily upon ensuring the buying experience is a positive one, from the moment they place their order to when they receive their items. Invest in shipping integrations and payment processing applications that will make the buyer’s journey as smooth as possible.
Since customer service representatives (CSRs) play a huge role in earning the confidence of your buyers, it’s important that your CSRs are equipped with the tools necessary to serve your customers best. Keep this in mind as you consider IT investments and software upgrades. Happy CSRs and happy customers go hand in hand.
One big way small businesses can improve customer relations is by using automation when necessary. For example, inquiries received during the day should obviously receive a prompt reply, but in this day and age, customers expect service 24/7. Consider automating your replies, especially if you’re selling on online marketplaces.
Offer an experience.
Think about the companies you consider to be most successful. Brands like Apple offer more than a product; they offer an experience. Apple invites the buyer to step into their brand — from the moment you walk into their store or buy one of their products, you feel as if you’re part of something. Building a strong brand starts with knowing your customer. Take the time to research both your targets and the competition. As you dive into the personality of your buyer, you can begin to build the personality of your business.
In order to understand the personality of your business, you need to know your company well. As you work to build your brand, embrace your niche and take advantage of the things that make you stand out. Understanding your place in the market will be instrumental in formalizing your target audience and the experience you want to offer them.
When selling in online marketplaces, keep in mind that healthy competition is good for business. Focus on what you can offer rather than areas where Amazon or Walmart have you beat, and don’t be afraid to embrace change for the sake of growth.
Also read: 10 Holiday Social Media Tips for Ecommerce