The global e-commerce market is expected to reach US$4.8 trillion in 2021 and it’s an exciting time to be in the retail and consumer goods sectors. Technology has radically changed the game and e-commerce has made it easier than ever to get products into the hands of consumers. You don’t necessarily need to know the minute details of payment processing, logistics or order fulfillment to run a successful store. The relatively limited barriers to entry make e-commerce attractive to many entrepreneurs. Even brick and mortar stores see the importance of doing business online.
As a natural consequence, anyone with an internet connection and an idea can enter the online retail market. This means that the market has become more competitive than ever. Smaller players can’t compete with the likes of Amazon or Alibaba, but they often do everything they can to blow each other out of the water. If you want to set yourself apart from the competition in 2020, there are certain things that you need to do. We’ll discuss many of them below. Armed with these tips, you’ll be ready to face whatever the new year has to offer.
Decide on a Niche
It’s tempting to try to sell a wide variety of products. That means you’ll get a wide variety of customers, right? Not necessarily. Smaller businesses tend to have much more loyal customers when they stick to a niche. Your focus should be on a particular audience’s needs, lifestyle and interests. Your target market should never be “everyone”. If you sell the same fast-fashion clothing as your competitors, you won’t be able to stand out or find a dedicated customer base. However, if you sell specialty clothing that’s handmade or ethically created, it will be easier to set yourself apart and cultivate a following.
Study Your Competition
Even when you choose a niche, you’ll have competition. In fact, even if you’re the first entrant in a new market, you probably won’t be without competitors for long if it’s a lucrative field. Instead of operating with blinkers on, you need to study your competition’s operations. Take a look at what they’re doing right and determine if you can adapt it to your site. Make sure you’re not stealing their intellectual property or plagiarizing their copy. Study how they’re displaying and promoting their products and services and how they’re making a name for themselves. You should also take note of anything you don’t like about the website so you can avoid doing anything similar.
Keep Up to Date with Technological Changes
Technology changes rapidly and online trends come and go quite quickly. If you want to remain relevant and competitive, you need to know what’s the next big thing. Customers will expect a modern site that loads quickly and is easy to use. If the user experience is poor, they won’t stick around to see what you have to offer. Knowing what consumers want and finding ways to gain their interest and trust is very important. If you keep up to date with e-commerce trends and implement them before others in your niche, you can fight off the competition.
Build a Loyal Customer Base
E-commerce isn’t just about pushing products. Instead of trying to sell something with every interaction, you need to build a relationship with both current and prospective customers. Engage them on social media or via a blog and provide them with information they can’t get elsewhere. Your content should be educational, inspirational, entertaining or a combination of all three.
You should also listen to what your customers ask for when they interact with you. Do they want faster shipping or do they keep asking you to stock a particular brand or product? Wherever possible, give your customers what they ask for even if it’s for a limited period. If you don’t, they’ll go to another business that will. When your customers realize that you do what you can to meet their needs, they’ll share their experiences with their network, and this could generate more sales for your business.
Improve Your Purchasing Decisions
Your supply chain will play a major role in your ability to beat the competition. However, it is not something you will perfect in the short term. It will take time to ensure you get the products, quality, and price you want but finding the right supply chain partners will make a big difference in your operation. Keep in mind that you are unlikely to get the best quality products if you choose the wholesaler or distributor with the lowest prices. If you plan to sell low-cost products, make sure that they function the way they’re supposed to so buyers don’t get turned off. Low prices may draw in buyers in droves but if the products are terrible, no one will return.
Make Data-Driven Decisions
Real-time data is now easier to gather than ever. When you use it to inform your business decisions, you’ll reduce costs, improve revenue, and gain a strong competitive advantage. Going with the strategies that worked before or those which seem to be effective for another company is never a good idea. Analyzing historical trends and making projections based on those trends will put your company in a much stronger position.
Reward Your Loyal Customers
Many businesspeople focus on attracting new customers. This is important but you also need to keep the customers you currently have. This is a lot less costly than trying to convert new prospects. Loyalty cards, exclusive discounts, rewards for referrals, and even giveaways can make your regular buyers feel appreciated. This simple technique is likely to increase your sales considerably and strengthen your reputation among consumers.
Face 2020 Head-On
The e-commerce sector is both exciting and challenging. With online shopping showing no signs of slowing down, there’s money to be made. However, since more and more businesses will likely be turning to the Internet to draw in consumers, you will have to be savvy about how you run your operation. Take the right steps and you’ll be able to fight off the competition in 2020 and beyond.