Almost 2,290 Billion USD was the worldwide revenue of e-commerce stores in 2018. YES you read that absolutely correct.
What’s more you ask? Well, this global e-commerce revenue is projected to increase to 4,479 billion USD by the end of 2021.
I got goosebumps just writing this!
Here’s some good news for your e-commerce plans:
Online shopping is seeing a worldwide boom and millions of e-commerce websites and stores have been founded in the past two years alone.
Online platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce have simplified and transformed the process of making and managing an online store.
This makes it easy for anyone to create an online store with just basic information about online businesses and e-commerce stores.
What you need to be aware of:
This means that the barriers to entry in the industry have been tremendously removed and now making an online store is a matter of just a few clicks.
Consequently, this also mean that the competition in the market has increased greatly over the past two years.
If you were to inspect the trends of business and industries, you’d find out that whenever a new industry is established or whenever new way of access are created in an industry, it sees a sudden boom and rapid expansion due to removal of barriers to entry.
More competition means you have to fight and struggle to establish your name in the market.
You will have to prove to your customers through the test of time that you have their best interests in mind and make yourself stand out of the crowd.
An e-commerce business that outshines others. But how exactly?
This brings us to the main part of this piece; how exactly can you make your e-commerce business stand out? What is it that you can do differently which will make you noticeable among this swarm of millions of ecommerce businesses?
Let me give you the short answer, you need to work your ass off if you want to make your brand striking. Making millions isn’t easy since big dreams require bigger sacrifices. So, let’s get on with it,
The ideology first:
There’s a basic principle when it comes to selling goods online. That is, you have to make the customer feel safe and you have to assure them that their money is in good hands. This generally goes for all forms of selling but here it can change the game.
What I’m on about is that you have to please your customers and make a positive image of your brand in their minds. Customer service, customer experience and customer engagement will be the three most focus worthy aspects of your whole e-commerce business.
Let’s explore the 4 simple practices in detail,
“Differentiation is one the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must engage.”- Theodore Levitt (American economist and former editor Harvard Business Review)
Having a Unique Selling Proposition is the most essential for your e-commerce business if you want to shine amongst your competitors. Creating an online store and populating it with great products is one thing.
But due to market saturation many stores end up selling the same thing. For customers, this is nothing short of a blessing since they have a plethora of stores to choose from.
Research your customers and understand what makes them buy the same product from you instead of your competitor or vice versa.
Having a USP to differentiate your brand from others will be your saving grace. It could be anything, a great discount, free shipping, fast delivery, easier payments or an actually helpful return policy.
No one likes to wait four weeks to receive their order
And customers like it when they’re assured about the security of their private information.
Research your competition and find out how your products are better from your competition and then do the opposite too. For example, if you are a shoe store you can try to find out how the shoes that you’re selling are different (good and bad) from the shoes available elsewhere.
Then try to analyze what you can do differently that’ll encourage or incentivize your customers to buy from you.
2. Website Design:
As we saw earlier, the customer’s decision is now not solely based on the product and quality but due to a wide range of options available to customers other aspects become more relevant and attention worthy.
Invest in a good website design from the get go or as early as you can. Visuals and themes now play an increasingly important role in the success of an e-commerce business website.
A good website design is one of the most essential elements for sustainability of an e-commerce business. Users can decide to not visit your website again if they don’t find it visually appealing or hard to navigate.
Make sure your website is properly organized and make separate categories and sub-categories to keep things neat. Choose a minimalistic theme and simple colors. Do some research to find out what colors define your niche/audience best and what they find attractive.
Keep navigation as seamless as possible. If you use CTAs on your website, highlight clear instructions and make it easy for the user to see where to go next. Include helpful links such as FAQs and policies in relevant and easy to access places.
With increasing online traffic now coming from mobile devices, you really cannot ignore the mobile friendliness of your website. Make sure that you’re using an adaptive design for your website so it can be easily accessed from any device without reducing the quality of your website’s user experience.
Just ask yourself what message do you want to send out using your brand and keep consistent with that brand image.
Finally, but most importantly, make sure that you make your site is secure and protected. Get relevant security certifications and display them on your checkout page as well as other pages to assert the message that your site is secure and protected.
A customer will leave your site if they are not sure about payment methods and their security.
You don’t want to lose customers just because they thought your website was not properly secure.
3. Use social proof:
Although, traditional marketing practices will certainly help you out here, but building your brand and establishing a solid and credible reputation requires a bit more than this.
Invest some resources in engaging your customers and gain feedback from them. Improve on the bad things and promote the good things your customers say about your brand.
Today, almost everyone who does shopping on the internet will prefer a transparent site with more customer reviews available to help make the purchase decision easier. Pay attention to detail and recognize what are your brand’s current pitfalls when it comes to customer satisfaction and reviews.
Besides that, you have social media networks at your disposal and you can use those networks effectively and cultivate a brand image along these platforms to generate traffic for your e-commerce business website.
You can reach out to influencers and send your products out to them for review or just a freebie. Remember to provide additional value of some sort (a USP) to make your offer attractive for their followers.
For example, if you are a clothing brand, you can send out your product to different influencers and if they like it, you can ask them for some pictures wearing it and flaunt these images on your brand’s social media or website gallery.
You can also use this strategy to make user-generated content. Simply engage your users on social media and encourage them to send you photos and videos of them using your product. This will also help you build a community of supporters if your products are really good.
Lastly, here’s something you can do additionally, allow users on your website to simply ‘like’ or ‘heart’ products without having to buy them or create an account, then you can display the total count of likes on a product alongside it’s listing to highlight trending or frequently liked products.
4. Contribute something for the good cause:
Wouldn’t it just melt your heart if a certain portion of money you paid for a product will be donated towards a charitable cause for helping people?
You will obviously see that brand in a different light after such an experience and that’s what you want to recreate as an e-commerce business owner.
Customers are more likely to buy from a brand if the brand supports a charitable cause and gives the customer a sense of philanthropy and humanity. Align your brand with a cause that is truly close to you and that your brand can connect with.
Adopting a charitable cause can also help your own brand find its unique identity. Choose a cause that you are actually passionate about for real because real commitment towards genuine causes will make your brand outshine your competitors.
In order to stand out from the crowd anywhere, you have to make yourself noticeable first. The best thing is that we all are human and thus we all have our differences which we are usually taught to hide so that we can fit in and seem normal.
In reality, these differences are what make you who you are. The more you can highlight and cherish your differences, the more successful you’ll be.
Just like you, your brand also has an individual identity. What you have to do is relish your brand’s identity and build a community of supporters who like your brand not just because of the products you offer but more so because of the nice experience they have whenever they shop at your online store.
Focus on relaying a unique shopping experience to the customer whenever they shop from or visit your store and you will be outperforming your competition effortlessly.