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How Small Ecommerce Brands Compete with Big Ecommerce Brands

How Small Ecommerce Brands Compete with Big Ecommerce Brands

Competition—it can be a great thing that pushes us to be our best, but it can also be terribly stressful depending on your industry. For small ecommerce brands, competition is part of daily life. However, it’s hard enough trying to compete amongst each other. Competing with bigger, sometimes even giant ecommerce brands can feel a lot like a gopher taking on a giraffe. 

That being said, David and Goliath is a story that has stood the test of time for a reason. With the right product, right team, and right tools, any small ecommerce brand can effectively challenge big ecommerce brands. ShipMonk works with amazing ecommerce brands of all sizes across all verticals that have products making waves in their markets. So we’re here to shed some light on eight key must-haves for those brands to efficiently compete with colossal competitors. 

#1 Effective Product Pages

Having a great product is key to any ecommerce brand’s success. It must fulfill a need in the market, all the better if it fits a niche. But having the perfect product isn’t enough; you need to effectively communicate the product’s advantages, uniqueness, and value to consumers. Confused and unimpressed customers don’t click BUY. You need to dazzle, and you need to be clear. Enter fine-tuned product pages. 

The main secret to a solid product page is keeping things simple, clean, and detailed. That means short and sweet titles, sharp photos from all important angles and vantage points that exemplify your product, thoughtful descriptions, dimensions, and even reviews from customers that can shed more light on their experience with product(s). Depending on your specific industry, your small ecommerce brand may want to include other factors like a size chart, materials, etc. 

Basically, if you include everything and anything that makes your product shine, it will better attract the attention of a prospective buyer. And the more detailed that page, the less likelihood of returns and unhappy customers because people are truly getting what they pay for, no mystery to the product whatsoever.

Note – If you’re feeling stumped, try looking up product pages from successful sellers within your industry. You’ll also want to ensure every product page is SEO-friendly so you rank higher in Google when consumers search keywords, i.e. purple headphones, flare leg jeans, bunny-shaped pillows, etc.

#2 Customer Reviews

Ever heard of social proof? The previous tip touched on the importance of customer reviews; allow us to emphasize that point now. Sometimes prospective customers can be torn between buying the product they’re after from one seller vs. another. Larger ecommerce brands tend to be like tides in the marketplace—they have a stronger pull. However, if a ton of people highlight how your product is better, fulfills their needs, and is the right choice, more consumers can be inspired to go the same path.

Overall, if people see that your products are amazing, reliable, even better, your small ecommerce brand can compete with the big boys much easier. Customer reviews add legitimacy and credibility to your business, as well as soul since they describe personal experiences and interactions. 

So incentivize buyers who don’t send items back (and therefore are likely satisfied with their purchases) to leave reviews for your brand. Perhaps a discount on a future purchase to kill two birds with one stone and convert them to a return customer? However you frame it, once you have reviews, or even simple ratings, make sure they are featured on your product pages to help prospective buyers make their decisions. 

#3 Multiple Sales Channels

Putting all your eggs in one basket is bad advice for Easter Egg Hunts, brunch-themed restaurants, and ecommerce brands. You need the benefit of multiple sales channels because when you—the business owner—pledge loyalty to a single sales channel you’re setting yourself up against two main issues. 

  • If there are ever any issues with your preferred platform (downed website, account issues, etc.) you’ll be left high and dry.
  • By solely committing to one marketplace partner you’re potentially missing out on thousands, maybe millions of customers. Your demographic is most likely scattered all over the internet, so you have to cast a wide net.

So why limit your ecommerce brand? And don’t work with anyone who does. ShipMonk, for example, is a 3PL that understands and embraces the need for different options. In fact, we offer 75+ integrations to our ecommerce clients, including a slew of shopping cart and marketplace partners that can help you diversify your sales channels and better compete with big ecommerce brands. 

#4 Easy Checkout

Plain and simple, it’s in everyone’s best interest for your website’s checkout process to be as seamless and easy as possible. That means no elaborate hoops to jump through, no confusing twists and turns, and no surprises. We’ve established that confused buyers don’t buy; frustrated buyers are just as likely to abandon their laptop tabs and search for a simpler solution to their product needs.

One of the things big ecommerce brands do so well is make it easy for people to acquire their products. Don’t let that beat your small ecommerce brand. Compete with that convenience. You can avoid a lengthy checkout by eliminating unnecessary forms, pop ups, and questions. Stick to the basics, like billing and contact information, and you’ll be good to go.

#5 Optimal Shipping Options

Shipping speed and shipping costs make or break ecommerce brands of all sizes. If your small ecommerce brand is looking to stand out against competitors of any caliber, here is where you can make a huge impact. Let’s look at this in three key lights. 

Free Shipping

Offering free shipping can boost your brand when applied strategically and shrewdly. It differentiates you from other companies and increases conversion rate; that’s proven. However, it is vital that you manage your costs by providing free shipping in a budget-friendly way. We recommend reading up on the subject thoroughly, as this can really turn the tide in your mission to take on the competition. At a glance, eight methods for affordably offering free shipping include: 

  1. Increase Average Order Value
  2. Set Minimum Order Value
  3. Offer a Membership Plan
  4. Harness FOMO
  5. Be Zip Code Selective
  6. Leverage Multiple Locations
  7. Use Ground Shipping
  8. Partner with a 3PL

Fast Shipping

People want what they want when they want it—not the most elegant analysis ever given, but an accurate one. If your small ecommerce brand wants to stand out and be competitive with even the biggest businesses, getting orders to customers quickly is vital. That comes down to three areas of your operation that need to be firing on all cylinders.

  1. Your ecommerce brand needs to utilize the best 3PL order fulfillment software that can keep track of and process orders, provide accurate real-time data on inventory levels, and give you a one-stop-shop to easily oversee your orders.
  2. It’s vital that you work with a 3PL provider like ShipMonk, whose state-of-the-art order fulfillment centers have all the latest and greatest ecommerce technology, as well as trained experts, to get orders out the door as rapidly as possible.
  3. Finally, you need to split inventory across key geographic locations so that your orders have fewer shipping zones, and thus less travel time to reach customers. ShipMonk, for example, has 12 first-party fulfillment centers that are strategically spread across the U.S. and globe; that way the ecommerce brands we partner with can keep their products close to different demographics, which easily reduces shipping time.

2-Day Shipping

Free shipping has its allure, but at the end of the day, both ecommerce brands and ecommerce customers really just want to save time and money. If there is a happy medium to do that, which benefits both parties, why not offer it?

There is no happier medium in the realm of shipping than 2-day shipping. ShipMonk has an amazing 2-day shipping service for ecommerce brands of all sizes that will keep you competitive with other brands in terms of speed and cost while enticing buyers with the same prospects when they order from your brand. Overall, when combined with order accuracy, the efficiency of our 2-day shipping service causes a splash in your market while also:

  • Reducing Cart Abandonment
  • Increasing Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
  • Expanding Your Seller Talking Points

#6 Display Clear, Detailed Policies

Most online shoppers aren’t picking through your ecommerce store policies with a fine-tooth comb. Even so, that doesn’t mean you should skimp out on clearly outlining the nuts and bolts of your ecommerce brand’s policies. Clearly explaining your policies (especially with returns and exchanges) will not only put your customers at ease, it will protect your business. 

The easier that information is to find and understand, the less chance you have of creating angry customers. The fewer angry customers your ecommerce brand faces, the more opportunity you have for returning customers, growth, and a competitive edge. In general, your online store should be equipped with policies regarding:

  • Returns
  • Exchanges
  • Shipping 
  • Privacy 
  • Terms of Service

Note – Once again, we can’t stress enough that all your ecommerce brand’s online store policies are easy to read and understand. Walls of text are neither helpful nor fun for anyone. Concise headers, digestible bullet points, and straightforward, short sentences are key to customer happiness and fewer headaches for everyone. 

#7 Excellent Customer Service

Of course getting someone to order one of your products is the pivotal part of your business. It’s the eggs in an omelette; you can’t have one without the other. However, you can’t stop after putting in effort there; then you’d have the lamest omelette ever or customers who may not return and may even badmouth your ecommerce brand. 

Customer service is a crucial element of any successful brand, and as big ecommerce brands are notorious for bad and/or outsourced customer service, this is also an area where small ecommerce brands can easily outshine their gigantic competitors. 

There are many ways you can employ amazing customer service. First, consider the fact that customer service shouldn’t be limited to when things go wrong. Be proactive after a purchase is made and send follow-up messages:

  • Inquiring if your customers are happy with their orders
  • Offering a coupon toward the next purchase
  • Establishing a relationship by asking for feedback
  • Supplying info about recommended products customers may also be interested in

It’s important to communicate that your ecommerce brand cares about every customer’s experience. This gets kicked into hyperdrive when it comes to a customer (or potential customer) reaching out to your brand with a question or issue. The protocol here should be simple:

  1. Make it easy to contact you
  2. Offer a range of contact methods
  3. Have more than just automated help options
  4. Enlist the security of post-purchase delivery protection 
  5. Keep the returns, exchanges, and claims process easy

If your customer service standards nail those five areas, you’re set up for success and are in an excellent place to create lasting good impressions with consumers that can translate into lasting buyer-seller relationships and more dollars in your pocket.

#8 Superior 3PL Resources

Online ecommerce is not a race run alone; it’s a tag-team marathon. Which means every ecommerce store needs the right help to win. The best “teammate” any ecommerce brand can have is a solid 3PL partner. An experienced 3PL helps you streamline your operations, provides vital data and software, offers a myriad of integrations to advance your brand, allows you to have the best shipping options, and has strategically located fulfillment centers for max order fulfillment efficiency and accuracy. ShipMonk checks off all these boxes and more, which is why we are the preferred 3PL for ecommerce brands of all sizes. We make it possible for them to reach their potential and compete at the highest level. 

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Golf. Dungeons & Dragons. Ecommerce. Three very different competitive realms where the long-game truly matters. It may seem daunting as a small ecommerce brand to face off with a big ecommerce brand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, and do it well. You have to play the long-game by implementing the right tools to best your competition.

ShipMonk is here to help you with that. We love setting our clients up for success regardless of their size or specialty. We hope you’ve found the above eight insights valuable for planning your long-term competitive strategy against big businesses out there. Use these tools to carve out a name for yourself and shine in your area. 

We’re here for anything you need to get to that point and beyond; just contact one of our 3PL experts today. Our team members are ready to roll up their sleeves and help you pursue the triumph you’re capable of!

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