Torben Baumdick – Founder & CEO of BAUMDICK GmbH.
Amazon increasingly dominates national and international online trade. At first glance, with the company accounting for 37.8% of the U.S. e-commerce market as of 2022, it may seem like there is hardly room for small and independent online stores these days.
But I find this view to be erroneous. Based on my experience helping online merchants find success, the following are some of what I believe to be the necessary steps to succeed in an increasingly consolidated online marketplace.
1. Show Rough Edges
Your company’s own positioning is reliant on differentiating yourself from companies like Amazon, Walmart or eBay. On these other sites, you can buy everything across the board, whereas your own online store will be limited to select, even niche products. This helps consumers perceive and accept you as a proven expert. This can increase your standing and, as a result, the acceptance of higher prices.
2. Get Personal
People like to buy online. What they don’t like is buying from robots and vending machines. They appreciate a personal approach—something that larger companies lack. Smaller, independent online stores have the ability to connect with customers on a more personal level and cater to their individual needs and preferences. By prioritizing the emotional aspect of shopping, these businesses can create a unique and fulfilling buying experience.
3. Create Outstanding Customer Service
Online retailers can always find ways to be a little bit better and more attractive than what the giant retailers offer. Amazon’s own return period, for example, is 30 days from the day of delivery, and goods can be returned free of charge instead of possible return costs. A review of Amazon’s terms and conditions can offer a variety of starting points to create positive, unique selling propositions.
4. Generate And Use Customer Data
At places like Amazon, correspondence via e-mail or telephone is difficult, and these giants remain deliberately anonymous and impersonal. What I find customers truly want, however, is the exact opposite.
Businesses can leverage the personal data that customers leave behind in order to better understand their needs and preferences and to tailor their marketing efforts accordingly. Of course, any use of customer data must be done in accordance with data privacy regulations like The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). By utilizing customer data in a responsible and thoughtful way, smaller businesses can create a more personalized and engaging shopping experience that can set them apart from larger competitors like Amazon.
5. Generate Leads And Retain Customers
Successfully attracting and retaining customers in an online store involves seamlessly merging the processes of customer acquisition and retention. The key is utilizing the personal approach at the right time.
Once the customer has made a purchase from your site, you know exactly which products they are interested in and can therefore offer them other relevant products. As customers come to associate the brand with a high level of personalized service and relevant product offerings, they are more likely to be loyal to your site and continue making purchases and recommending you to others.
In summary, there are many advantages of having your own online shop compared to a partnership with Amazon or other large e-commerce sites. If you position yourself as an expert in your niche, address your customers personally, convince them with your individual offers and find a strategy to keep them, nothing can stop you from being successful.
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