Being in business means facing stiff competition. Even though around 80 percent of small businesses survive their first year, only a few are able to pull the feat and sustain for many years.
In fact, by their 10th year in business, only 30 percent of businesses are still in operation.
What is the “it” factor that allows some businesses to thrive, while others die a slow and painful death? How can you repeat the successes and avoid the failures?
A big part of the equation is staying a step ahead of your competitors. Doing so requires creativity, paying attention to the market and knowing how to outsmart your competition. Fortunately, you can easily pull ahead of your competitors by correctly implementing a few simple e-commerce tricks.
User experience improvements can work to increase your bottom line. Approximately 97 percent of websites fail at UX, and thus suffer from poor conversion rates.
Statistics show it’s highly likely your competition is failing at user friendliness, and if you can improve your UX, you’ll be ahead of the game and ahead of the competition.
Some top things to include if you want to instantly make your site friendlier include easy navigation, mobile responsiveness and less clutter on your pages.
Pinterest is an example of a site that has done an incredible job with UX. Of course, Pinterest wasn’t the first website that allowed users to save links from around the web. However, those other sites didn’t offer images or click-and-save features that integrated easily with blogs. This functionality allowed Pinterest to overshadow its competitors quickly and become almost addictive to users.
If you want to reach your target audience, you first need to figure out where they spend their time online. One way to do this is to seek out your competitors and figure out where they are advertising. There are several tools for “spying” on your competitors, such as Google Alerts and What Runs Where — a utility that allows you to track your competition by looking at ad networks in different countries.
If you aren’t already using Facebook lead ads, this is a smart tool that allows you to collect information from a highly targeted audience of people who might be most interested in your product. Typically, you would offer a special deal or a free download to get them to sign up to your mailing list. You can then market to them going forward. This step is something much of the competition fails to do, so it’s a smart move on your part.
Hallmark is one example of a targeted Facebook ad. They have a lot of competition with discount cards and online e-cards, but they stand out from the crowd with their emotional, heartfelt ads. Here, they share one in a lead ad, and the action they want the user to take is to shop immediately.
Also Read: 101 Tips To Make Your Website Sell
To get ahead of your competition, you have to know all you can about them. Creating a competitor map can be quite helpful with this. Even if you run a global business, it can still be a useful strategy. All you need to do is place the other companies’ headquarters on a map. Doing so will create a visual representation of where the companies’ core markets are and give you insights to possible delivery time and cost.
You’ll also want to spend some time browsing your competitors’ sites. What are they missing, and what can you do better than they do?
Amazon is the king of e-commerce websites. In fact, they began to eat into Walmart’s sales, forcing Walmart to take a deeper plunge into online retail. However, Walmart also allows customers to pick up their items in their closest store — which eliminates shipping costs and means people can get their purchases sooner. Of course, the customer can also choose to have the item shipped, or get free two-day shipping with a minimum order.
One way you can differentiate yourself from your competitors is to analyze what they have to offer. You should look at both products and shipping costs. You’ll also want to study their sales cycles and special offers.
Once you have a good idea of what your competitors offer, think of ways you can top them: more products, unique products, better sales, more frequent sales, free shipping, buy-one-get-one-free offers and as many extras as you can handle.
You’ll also want to fix any problems on your site. For example, if your site loads two seconds slower than a competitor’s site, figure out how you can get your site to load two seconds faster than theirs.
Laura Ashley is one example of a site that goes above and beyond their competition. There are a lot of competitors in the home goods arena, but Laura Ashley stands out by offering unique products you can’t find anywhere else. In addition, they entice the customer to sign up for their mailing list by offering 10 percent off a first order.
Customer satisfaction and customer retention go hand-in-hand. Even if all other factors are equal, a company with excellent customer service can rise above the competition. When you factor in that a current customer is 60 to 70 percent more likely to buy from you, compared to only 5 to 20 percent of new customers, retaining current customers becomes even more important.
Take the time to look at your competition’s customer service. Go undercover as a customer and contact them with a question or complaint to study how they handle that. How can you up your ante and offer even better support for your customers?
For example, can you add a live chat tool on your website? Do you offer 24/7 telephone support? If not, can you afford to hire a company to do this for you? There are also options that won’t cost you a lot, such as chatbots.
Also Read: Conversational Ecommerce and Chatbots
Study your site through the eyes of a competitor. What are your strengths? Consider hiring some mystery shoppers to get solid feedback on everything from the shopping experience to the buying process.
Once you know your strengths, play them up with your current and potential customers. Tell them you are available 24/7 for questions. Explain your 110 percent satisfaction guarantee.
If you uncovered any weaknesses, look at how you can improve in those areas. How can you turn your weaknesses into strengths? What changes do you need to make to get there?
Applying simple e-commerce tricks and studying the competition will allow you to pull ahead of the pack and become a success in your business niche. Remember, customers tend to only remember your last interaction with them and how it made them feel. That is why every interaction needs to be the absolute best experience possible for every consumer you interact with.
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