A popular joke in the online retail world is that there are two kinds of retailers: Amazon.com, and everyone else. If you fall under the latter, it’s easy to get cowed at the sheer size of big online companies. But here’s a secret: they’re afraid of you too.
The playing field of online retail isn’t as lopsided as experts would have you believe. Here are five advantages you have over the big corporations, and how you can use them to gain an edge.
1. You can look just as credible.
One thing all retailers have in common is that most of their traffic still lands on the home page. A well-designed home page can earn you that “instinctive” trust that people put into sites that look trustworthy. On the Web, after all, it’s all about perception.
2. You can reach niche audiences.
Big retailers need big audiences to earn their keep, but you can make your fortune from the smaller niche markets they tend to ignore. It’s seldom worth their money to seek out markets with little demand. But that’s precisely what small companies need—a highly targeted audience with a far greater chance of becoming regulars.
3. You can offer personalized service.
It’s a well-known fact that the larger the company, the poorer the customer service. When’s the last time you got a refund from a big retailer without being passed around from one department to the next? With a smaller audience, it’s easier to directly address people’s concerns and build more lasting relationships with your customers.
4. You can beat them at SEO.
Again, since your products are more specialized, you can rank higher than big retailers for the search terms that matter to you. A sound combination of search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, and other marketing techniques can gain you significant market share at the expense of large competitors.
5. You probably have more online experience.
A lot of established retailers started out as brick-and-mortar stores; many still keep their offline operations. Studies show that online operations are largely neglected in such companies, often causing internal struggles as they compete with offline management. On the other hand, companies that started out online offer more efficient Web service and are more likely to keep customers.