It’s a staggering figure: 97% of e-commerce businesses fail every year! And, asked who their biggest competitor was, 99% of retailers will most likely drop the name “Amazon”.
Their scale advantages are just hard to overcome: 5-13% lower prices, a huge selection of ready-to-ship products, the convenience of two-day, next-day or even same-day shipping, lots of information, reviews and product ratings.
Who can possibly try to compete with that?
The good news is, there are 3% of stores that do survive every year, and they’re not all about matching prices. Whenever retailers stop focusing on Amazon and start focusing on their own customers, great things happen. They differentiate!
These are 4 successful strategies that we’re seeing in the market that businesses use to differentiate and give shoppers reasons to return:
#1 Make shopping easy
Amazon is basically a product search engine for bargain hunters. It’s great for consumers who know almost exactly what they are looking for, but it can be a nightmare for shoppers who do not have clearly articulated preferences. This applies to around 69% of consumers who generally shop with a specific need, scenario or purpose, but without a clear product choice in mind . A store that only addresses experts can easily overwhelm and frustrate shoppers who do not have a great level of domain knowledge, and thus, drive a large amount of potential customers away.
Offer your shoppers something more valuable than the largest assortment or the lowest price. That is, a customer-oriented, smooth and friction-free shopping experience.
Komplett Group has won a loyal following by removing the uncertainty and stress involved in ordering goods online. By answering a few questions about their lifestyle, needs and preferences, customers receive personalized product recommendations based on their actual needs. Komplett’s interactive product advisors help match online customers to the right products and saves them the trouble of figuring out which product to get.
#2 Build trust with information
Shoppers crave information. However, as retailers usually do not have constant access to all the relevant product information and rely on their suppliers to provide them with the necessary data to satisfy their customers, product information management can be a tough cookie to crack, and it’s an industry-wide problem. There are several data aggregators in the market and efforts to create a standard system for sharing product information, which can help you make your bad data at least seem a bit better.
But, it’s important to know that rich, consistent, and detailed product information is one of the most critical elements in a shopper’s decision-making process. Whenever done well, it provides retailers with a unique opportunity to differentiate – hence, you should have a plan in place to improve bad data.
REI does an excellent job of providing shoppers with a vast amount of useful product information and presenting it in a clutter-free, easily digestible way. They consider that each shopper has different information needs during different stages of their journey, and only provide their shoppers with the level of detail they request and which they are ready for.
#3 Show your expertise
Especially when buying products online, consumers turn to experts at some point in their journey to understand what’s best for them. These experts help reduce the scope of options, educate and advise shoppers on what to get and give them the confidence they need to follow through on an intended purchase.
Sharing real expertise about products adds personality to your business, which is a powerful competitive advantage that is not easy to replicate.
PishPoshBaby is one that masters the art of showing and sharing their expertise online. They offer a full range of interactive services for different user groups such as live chat, interactive expert product advice, and the option to talk to an expert directly. Their “Moms help Moms” approach adds a lot of value and credibility to their online store and ensures that new and expectant moms and dads don’t have a hard time choosing the right baby gear, even with little experience.
#4 Think beyond the transaction
Today, consumers use an average of 5 connected devices in the purchase process as they research and buy products online. This offers multiple opportunities for retailers to interact with buyers and create value in all stages of the customer experience. Successful retailers are those who excite, engage and educate shoppers with useful information across all touch points, long before a purchase decision is made.
Thinking beyond the transaction lets you build meaningful relationships with your customers and drive traffic into your store.
Sephora is praised in the industry for taking omnichannel a step further and differentiating by pursuing a customer-centric digital strategy. Sephora uses technology such as beacons, augmented reality, face scanners and other innovative solutions to merge their online and in-store experience. This enhances the emotional relationship between the customer, the products and Sephora.
“We’re focusing on technology that blurs the lines between online and in-store. Our greatest focus is giving the customer a personal shopping assistant in the store. ” (Johnna Marcus, Sephora’s director of mobile and digital store marketing)
Retailers who are different and offer something different beyond low prices are the ones that will ultimately thrive and survive in this competitive market. What it comes down to is knowing your customer, understanding what they really want, providing them with an experience they can’t get anywhere else, and making shopping as easy as possible for them.