Not listed in Internet Retailers Top 500 Guide? Do you really want to be?
Since we were little there has always been a predisposed nature to look up people we admire and try to emulate them. As kids we looked up to a parent, older brother, the cool kid in class, etc. We thought that they had it all figured out and if we could just copy what they were doing, we would be much “better” off. Focusing on your opportunity strengths, not what your market big brothers are doing, will help you stay focused and grow within an achievable goal structure.
So, why should you be feeling good? Analyze your site based on these themes and see if you may be better off then you think...
The biggest advantage that a small site has compared to a major national/international player is flexibility - the speed at which changes can be made. Smaller teams lead to shorter turn-arounds and an inherent personal responsibility for the project that you are working on. If you are running an eCommerce team of one, the buck stops with you and you alone. There is always something that you can be doing to improve your site.
Testing is something that both the small and large site are able to do, and should be doing. With the affordable applications that are out there today, there is no reason to assume anything. The benefit for testing on a small site is the flexibility that you have to make quick updates. Small sample sizes at the right time will allow you to make quick updates to the site as you are continuously improving your site.
Shoppers that are purchasing based on price can be a waste of time for small ecommerce companies. You are not going to be able to compete on price, and that shopper is not going to be a loyal shopper. They are not interested in what an expert knows. These shoppers have a very low Customer Lifetime Value (the long term value that a unique client will have for your site: in purchases, brand advocacy, etc...). Shoppers with a high customer lifetime value will grow your site and provide you with the opportunity to grow your presence in a sustainable fashion.
You are the expert; make sure your shoppers know that. This is a chance for you to show your clients that you know about the product and that you are real people, interested in the product. A personal video can do wonders to put the shopper at ease. You might not be able to compete on price, but you have the opportunity to make them comfortable with the product before they buy – shoot for this.
Content is King
Yes, the big guys have more SKUs then you. Yes, the big guys have co-op dollars that they can use for 3rd party shopping tools. So what. You are in a niche category. A category in which you happen to be an expert. Let your shopper know! They came to your page for a reason. Provide them with information that they are not going to get with the big guys! With online SKU counts growing higher and higher everyday because of drop ship programs the retailer will be running into a problem: all retailers having the same data feed content (product copy and product images). This will lead to the wild price competitions and outrageous marketing budgets getting spent on the opinions of whoever the new category manager of the month may be. You are small, though. (Remember, that is not a bad thing.) You don’t have the luxury of huge marketing budget and therefore your price points are set to keep your business moving forward.
My Suggestion to Help You Win with Small eCommerce
Care about your products and go the extra mile. If you have a brick and mortar presence, ask yourself how you would interact with a customer. What type of questions do they have? How does your staff describe the benefits of the product? This is your opportunity to provide information to the client as though they were in your store; take advantage of it. Add additional images and expand upon content that is provided from vendor DAMs/PIMs.
Do we all wish that we were billion dollar international retailers? Maybe. That, though, is not going to happen over night. Identify what makes your site different and focus on what you can do today to make you site better today.
What other TECHNIQUES are UNIVERSAL TO ECOMMERCE regardless of the budget or SKU count? Tell me in the comments below what else works.