How to Combat a Shiny New Competitor

Relative to leasing retail space, purchasing shelves, and investing in a shop full of stock, ecommerce delivers a very low barrier to entry. In reality, just about any entrepreneur with a little bit of capital and tech savvy can sell online. This implies, however, that established, small and midsize on-line retailers will definitely face competition from new retailers also.

Starting an ecommerce company can be relatively straightforward. But once an ecommerce company is up and running, it is bound to confront competition from newer companies.

…once an ecommerce company is up and running, it is bound to confront competition from newer companies.

When a shiny new competitor enters the market it frequently stinks (even dumps) advertising dollars into pay-per-click advertisements and search engine optimization to acquire a share of this market. But ecommerce retailers have four ways to compete with the interloper: innovative marketing, leading customer service, exceptional offers, and loyalty incentives.

1. Be Creative with Your Advertising

Many, if not most, online retailers use the exact same marketing tools to attract new clients. This typically includes things such as the above PPC ads, banner ads, and even product placement in marketplaces such as Amazon or Newegg.

As opposed to attempting to match the new competitor in marketing, think about being a more creative and using established clients to acquire new ones.

For instance, consider running a competition with a huge prize. Invite present clients to enter, and give them extra entries into the competition when they consult a friend. The referral invitation may include a special deal, such as a 20-percent discount. Monitor how many sales the competition generates. It may even be less costly than buying PPC ads.

Another alternative, albeit somewhat more direct, is to invest in content marketing (for example, how-to videos) and, again, encourage current clients — for example, individuals that are on an email list or who are followers on Facebook or other social networking platforms — to encourage and share content. The hope is that this material will, in turn, attract new clients.

Finally, as opposed to competing with regular PPC ads, try pre-roll advertisements on YouTube, or radio-style advertisements on Pandora.

2. Provide Stellar Customer Service

Among the greatest challenges facing new ecommerce companies is the way to manage customer support. Therefore, incumbent online retailers may use expertise in this area to be competitive.

To fend off competitors, consider highlighting exceptional customer service, like offering positive return policies and implementing live chat during peak hours. When clients comment that they appreciate the customer service, encourage them to supply a positive evaluation on services such as Google Shopping and also to give your organization a nod, if you will, on social networking.

In effect, provide stellar customer service and also make sure that everybody knows about it. Finally, include your customer service guarantees and functionality on your ads.

3. Make Unique Offers

A new competitor’s customer may be your previous customer. It seems complex but it means that some of your present clients, even folks who’ve made a few purchases, might attempt a new competitor that’s spending a lot on advertising.

To help prevent this, think about using email marketing or after-the-sale promotions to nourish present clients a steady diet of supplies during your new competitor’s start up period. As soon as you’ve weathered the storm, so to speak, return to normal levels of offer-based advertising.

For instance, imagine a shopper that has made a purchase. A couple of days after that purchase, the merchant can send a thank you email, telling the client how much his item was appreciated. Together with that email, the merchant might include an offer for a percentage from a subsequent order, a free gift with his next purchase, or similar.

Moreover, if an online merchant has done a fantastic job of segmenting customer email lists, it is possible to send a great deal more relevant offers that make more sense for an individual customer.

4. Offer Loyalty Incentives

Bloomingdale’s”Loyalist” is a fantastic example of a simple loyalty program that could help merchants retain present customers.

Bloomingdale’s, the massive brick-and-click retailer, has among the best (easiest ) customer loyalty programs in the enterprise. Together with the Bloomingdale’s Loyalist program, shoppers get a point for each dollar they spend. After the reach 5,000 points they automatically get a $25 Bloomingdale’s gift card.

Bloomingdale’s also awards additional points for select product categories. For instance, the merchant’s customers get two points for every dollar spent on makeup.

This simple loyalty program may be just the type of competitive tool for an established ecommerce enterprise. Offer customers the chance to join for free and start earning points immediately.

Additionally, offer point specials. For instance, on traditional slow periods of the month or week, send out an email offering triple or double points for purchases made within the next few hours.

Be sure to let shoppers know exactly how many points they have and the number of purchases they should earn a reward.