How to Stand Out From the Competition in eCommerceApril 19, 2018 - Guest
With so many businesses selling online, it is essential that your business stand out from the competition in eCommerce. Your competition varies widely, from the biggest businesses to solo entrepreneurs, so you need to carve out your niche in the market.
Today’s online shoppers want a personalized connection with their sellers. They are more selective about brand loyalty, but once a company makes that connection, they will proudly share their enthusiasm with friends, family, and their social media network.
Identify the areas where your eCommerce business can strengthen your connection with your core demographic, and you will gain a committed following of repeat shoppers. Test out the key aspects to see where your company measures up.
Determine your key demographic
Before you can connect with your audience, you need to know exactly who you are talking to. While your products may be beneficial to almost anyone, they will naturally appeal to a certain subset of online shoppers.
Some business owners are reluctant to narrow their focus to a select group of shoppers. However, by speaking to a single demographic, your audience can easily self-identify as ideal customers.
Step one: Do your research
To identify your primary demographic, analyze your existing customers. You can group them by common demographic factors, such as
- Education level
- Physical location
- Family composition
Also, take a look at their psychographic makeup – psychological factors that make each person unique. These include:
- Shopping habits
- Personality traits
If you have been in business for a while, you can discover many of these factors by reviewing past sales. When you are just starting out, you will have to do a bit more research into the current market and your closest competitors.
Go directly to the source by conducting surveys of your audience. These can be done in person, such as with focus groups or individual interviews, or online via email or through a survey company. The key is to ask questions that will reveal your customers’ pain points, the issues that they are trying to solve by purchasing your products.
Use online research tools to get a better sense of the latest buying trends within your demographic. You can also take an in-depth look at your competitors by analyzing their websites and social media profiles, to see how they are attracting similar audiences.
Step two: Create your buyer persona
Once you have gathered sufficient information, organize it into one or more buyer personas. These are a composite of the most relevant results of your research, that serve as an effective reference point when targeting your efforts.
An example buyer persona might look like this:
- Penny Persona
- Wife, mother of two boys
- College-educated, $60,000 annual income
- Struggles to make time for her hobbies, knitting, and painting
- Wants to purchase more craft supplies, but worries about having time to create
In this simplified scenario, you can address her worries which will give her the confidence needed to buy more of your products.
You may need multiple personas, depending on how widespread your inventory is. As you learn more about your ideal customers through their personas, you will discover the best ways to connect with them and stand out from the competition.
Personalize the shopping experience
Contextual commerce, also called personalization or behavioral targeting, seeks to create a unique shopping experience based on the shopper’s previously-taken actions. For example, Facebook’s retargeting pixel allows you to track who has visited your site recently and then directly display product ads in their Facebook feed. Allowing you to redirect your shopper back to your website, gaining sales you otherwise would not have.
Amazon’s personalized product recommendations and Netflix’s recommendations based on previously watched shows are prime examples of on-website behavioral targeting. By encouraging additional, related purchases, you are showing your customers that you are attentive to their needs, sweetening the buying experience.
For eCommerce websites, try showcasing related products together, such as a complete set of sheets, blankets, and pillows. Also build in geographically customized features, such as displaying local sales tax, shipping rates, and delivery times based on their location. Your buyers will feel that their shopping experience was tailored just for them, you’ll reap the benefits to your bottom line and stand out from the competition.
With so many shoppers buying from their mobile devices, you will want to make sure your checkout process is well-optimized for mobile. Keep the checkout screens short, easy to navigate, and without extraneous information. Your buyers will be grateful for the smooth checkout experience and will be less likely to abandon their cart.
Make the most of social media
Buyers enjoy connecting with their favorite brands on social media, and you want to be one of those brands. They look for answers about the products they wish to buy, both directly from the company, online reviews, and from their friends’ social media posts.
Part of your demographic research should include discovering which social media platforms your customers use most frequently. Physical products do well on visual platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Most platforms also have buy now buttons, making the shopping experience seamless for your audience.
Make it easy and fun for your buyers to show off your products on social media. With beautiful, branded packaging, you will encourage your audience to create unboxing videos and images that they are eager to share with their followers. Plus, it shows that you care about your customers as more than just a sale, as the time and attention you put in will not go unnoticed.
Another way to connect with your demographic is by creating giveaways on social media. By giving additional contest entries with social sharing, you will reach your follower’s friends easily, and showcase your business as a fun, generous brand.
There are endless ways to reach your audience, making them feel special throughout their shopping experience and stand out from the competition. Get to know your unique eCommerce demographic, and create touch points throughout the process that show them that you care.
The investment is well worth it, as loyal buyers will become repeat buyers, and recommend your business to their friends. Your brand will stand out as committed, caring, and well-established within your market. Because building connection is always a win-win.
Augustin Kennady is a Media Relations Director for ShipMonk, Columbia alum, eCommerce enthusiast. He talks about content writing on Quora and other forums, guest posting, finding leads on social media, and the general future of the intersection between machine learning, automation, and technology with eCommerce.