Once upon a time, setting up a business required one to give up their life's savings. Today, with all the available tools and resources, setting up a business is a lot easier. Even with limited capital, it's possible to build your own online store and thrive.
According to research, 95% of purchases will be made online by 2040. With the world increasingly relying on online shopping, eCommerce opens the doors of opportunity for countless entrepreneurs. But that's not all: eCommerce sales opportunities are growing at a large scale too. Total eCommerce sales in 2017 were around $2.3 trillion, and in 2021, this number is expected to nearly double to $4.5 trillion.
While the numbers are promising and setting up an online store is easy, such as through using Shopify or Wix, building a shop is not enough. You can have a fantastic store, but you need to drive traffic to it and build a customer base. The challenge isn't about making your online store stand out; it's about innovating and finding unique ways of doing things so your brand and business are recognized as the best-in-class.
As a store owner, you'll not only have to do what everyone else does, but also go a step ahead and find a way to make a positive impact on your customers. This article will look at six tactics that you can use to make your online store stand out!
Build a strong foundation for your local shop through brand recognition
To start a business and stand out, you need to get your foundation right, including a well-designed logo.
Your logo is the visual identity of your brand. It represents your brand where your brand name alone cannot. You can't share your business name in every marketing communication. Your logo does this promotion for you silently but effectively. A good, well-designed logo tells your audience how professional you are. It gives your business a face and can be a powerful tool to build a strong brand and stand out from the competition.
Write an exciting story for your store's products
Writing a story about your products helps customers connect to what you're offering. To build a story, start by answering questions such as:
- Where did this product originate from and why?
- Why do customers prefer this product over other similar or competitive products?
- Who created this product?
- What was their story/motivation behind the product creation?
You can create a story around almost any product. Let's use the example of a candle. Use your imagination and think from your customer's perspective. Why would a shopper want to buy your vanilla-scented candle? Perhaps the shoppers connects with your brand because your candle helps them relax after a long day. Or, maybe your candle reminds them of a place and the scent has a sense of nostalgia attached to it. Or, maybe this candle was made by a group of women that have been empowered and lifted out of poverty by selling their candles to stores like yours.
Adding the product's story increases the value for the buyer. It makes the shopper realize they're a part of something special or supporting something good. A well-crafted tale and beautiful packaging can help you accomplish quite a lot and make your online store stand out.
Pick a particular niche for your online store
When creating an online shop, you need to choose which products to sell and the niche you want to fill. For example, anyone can sell generic candles, but you sell different candles. You target people looking to disconnect and relax with a beautiful, natural candle. You fill a gap in the market. You need to share about that niche to find and market to your customers.
People love stories and they want to feel connected to the products they buy and shops they buy from. For example, if you run the candle shop and most of your customers share some common traits such as an interest in travel, fitness, and wellness you can play to those niches in your brand. Anyone can sell candles, but you can sell candles that connect to your customer.
If the product you're selling faces stiff competition, one of the most effective ways to stand out is to find a niche audience and market to them. Create a message and customize your marketing to speak specifically to them. If you find that most of your customers are travellers, choose products that reflect them and their story and their needs.
Choose product prices that reflect your product value
This may sound counterintuitive, but putting prices that reflect the value of your product, even if they are high, can help.
As a small business owner, you aren't looking to compete with the giant retail whales. You're looking to succeed in your niche and provide the best quality for that niche. What you can do is offer shoppers a product that makes your customers feel and see value for which they'll be willing to pay a little extra.
One way to display the value of your product is by giving them a creative and unique touch. One way you can do this is by looking at your packaging--make it attractive and unique to your brand. This will allow you to distinguish your products and help your online store stand out from the masses.
Let's go back to our candles example. The dollar store sells a box of 60 candles for $6.49--that's about 10-11 cents per candle. Then there's your online store that's selling a box of 6 candles for $60. That's nearly ten times the price of the lowest priced offer for a candle so how do you convince a customer to buy a more expensive candle?
The difference between the two is what latter shop offers. Maybe it's a unique scented candle that last long and have a strong fragrance. Maybe the customer also has the option to customize scents and create a candle gift box for loved ones. Perhaps the store owner handwrites a note alongside each purchase to thank customers for supporting a local store. Maybe the candles also come in a wonderful holder that can be recycled at the candle store for savings on their next purchase.
For someone who truly loves candles and wants to have a one-of-a-kind experience, which candles would they buy? There's no contest here: the expensive candles have the most value for the customer.
An effective strategy to make your online store stand out is to start thinking about how your products are different from other similar products out on the market. Think about what's possible and get creative. The more you explore, the better ideas you will get. Even if you're selling the same product as the big retailer, you're selling a much better version of it.
Having a niche and strong value proposition will allow for the optimal pricing and marketing strategy which can make for a successful online shop.
Bundle your products and offer personalized recommendations for orders
Think of items that go well with a product and create pre-packaged bundles of items or recommended items to pair with their cart purchases. You can offer different product combinations and the customers can choose the options they want to combine and buy as a bundle.
Let's understand product packages and bundles using our same candle example. Along with a scented candle, you could offer a candle stand, bath salts, fairy lights, or maybe an aroma diffuser and essential oils. Think of bundles that would appeal to sub-niches and deliver them to your customers. You can use existing customer purchasing habits from your store or see what competitors bundle to build your packages.
Offering bundles helps increase your sales because it makes the customer's shopping trip easy and convenient. One study found that personalized recommendations for products led to a 13% increase in sales. A customer doesn't have to look for individual items when they can get them all in one place. People pay for convenience.
Offer the best customer service and highlight that strategy
In the eCommerce world, offering impeccable customer service is a great way to stand out from competitors or larger stores. People love shopping local and small because they get to connect with the business owners and team directly.
There are many examples of how poor customer service can negatively impact a business. Pick any online forum and you'll see customers complain about receiving wrong products, insufficient packaging, customer service not calling them back, late deliveries, no updates. There's an endless list of service-related frustration that you've likely experienced yourself. Being a business that resolves these issues and is transparent is a huge competitive edge. An unhappy customer is highly likely to leave a bad review but only 1 in 10 happy customers are willing to leave reviews so it's important to you work extra hard to achieve happy customers.
Do some research and make a list of all the customer complaints that you can find in your niche or industry. Then build a strategy to tackle all these problems. You may find simple solutions to encourage more people to buy from your website. For example: don't force shoppers to sign-up for an account when making a purchase. Not only is this an extra annoying step, but by forcing them to sign up, you're asking them to do something that they're not ready to do just yet. If someone is visiting your online store to make a one-time purchase, they may not want to join your club. By offering them a seamless shopping experience, you'll be able to improve the chances of them coming back.
Another vital strategy to make your online store stand out is to create strong customer promises and deliver them. Use service guarantees to show how serious you are about customer service - such as responding to queries within two business days. For example, your business could make a service promise, and if you fail to deliver, you provide a discount, gift card, or the purchase could be free for the customer. When you do something like this, customers know you take customer service seriously and you get noticed.
Competing in eCommerce is an on-going effort
The eCommerce world is competitive, and there will always be someone offering the same thing as you - that's normal! The best way to build a successful business is to stand out and now you have six tips to accomplish that for your shop. Continue to apply and update your strategy as your business grows and you receive more input from customers and product insights. Continue to build an authentic brand that connects with your customers and share what you've built online so your local eCommerce store can stand out.