Online shopping has hit its stride. But with all the things that set it apart from traditional retail — more convenience, options and ways to buy — there’s one facet that won’t ever disappear: retail giants.
Just as mom-and-pop shops brick and mortar shops watched big-box retailers take over, independent online sellers are seeing giants like Wal-Mart and Amazon do the same. Like their physical counterparts in days of old, these giants have the money and personnel to swallow the costs of boosting customer satisfaction and increasing repeat purchases.
Don’t give up though. There are ways to stay competitive in e-commerce. They just mean you’ll have to put in some extra effort to ensure your customers will want to keep coming back to you for their needs.
Attractive Site Design
Mot shoppers give your site three seconds to load and make a first impression. This means your platform must be fast and it must well be designed. The best free ecommerce templates, like Shopify’s take this into consideration. They also make it easy to mount a professional appearance to help instil trust in your potential customers.
An important impact you can make on your patrons is and optimizing the unboxing experience. People love the thrill of getting packages at their doorsteps. This intensifies when the look of the package welcomes them home.
Your packaging is usually your customer’s first physical interaction with your store, meaning it will give your buyer their first impression of the product and your business. The quality of the materials and the overall look of the package has a strong impact on your image in the eyes of your customers. In fact, more than half of online shoppers believe premium packaging means a brand is more upscale.
Finding a fulfilment centre located near the majority of your customers makes a big difference in your delivery capabilities. Why do people love Amazon Prime so much? Free two-day shipping can be tough to resist. If you’re a smaller retailer it might be difficult to offer this profitably. However, you can still make sure your customers aren’t waiting longer than necessary to receive their goods.
When fulfilment centres are closer to your customers, shipping costs and wait times decrease. If you’re looking for one, or a storage warehouse, make sure it’s near the bulk of your customers. You should also try to get close to your carrier’s shipping hub as well as the port if you’re sourcing internationally.
Provide Outstanding Customer Service
Delivering a killer customer service experience will put you ahead of the game. This is one of Amazon’s biggest assets and been a huge driver of its success. The company’s response times are quick and its return guidelines are clear so the retailer largely prevents surprises.
While delivering superior customer service might seem difficult when you’re a one- or two-person team, there are several ways to make sure your customers know what to expect from you, as well as how to reach you in an emergency. Post this information where it’s easily found on your site. Make your return guidelines easy to find too. Create and monitor a Twitter account for your support staff. Use a live chat application to manage frequently encountered circumstances.
Innovation is Key
E-commerce giants are just like big-box stores: they have money and resources the small fries don’t. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t win against them. As long as you find smart ways to meet your customers’ needs — whether it’s through packaging, shipping or customer service (or hopefully all three) — you will stand a chance in the face of even the tallest e-commerce giant.
In other words, there are ways to stay competitive in e-commerce. If you maintain an awareness of trends and technology and find your niche, you can own a slice of your segment of the market.