3 Competitive Tips for Online Retailers

auction_softwareIt’s a dog eat dog world out there. Or more like it, it’s a big box online retailers eating SMB’s online retailers world wide web out there. That’s right – the same way mom and pop shops on Main street are struggling to survive when another mega store with a sprawling parking lot is opening on highway 666, so is the case with small-time online retailers. It’s not easy to compete with the likes of Amazon.

But why is it? Why do online retailers find it so hard to compete? In theory, the web was supposed to level the playing field, making everything easily approachable in the same way, every store in the world just one click away. But boy oh boy, the wars that go on behind the scenes over that one click.

Show Me the Money, Now Show It to Me Again

One of the most clichéd clichés is “You have to spend money to make money”. The problem with clichés, they’re annoyingly true. Big box online retailers spend tons of money fighting over this one single click. Obviously SMB don’t have the same big pockets and the vicious circle is created, making it more and more difficult for them to compete.

Where all this money goes to? If you’re thinking advertisement, you’re wrong. Enterprise level spend their money on a variety of tools that ensure they are not just competitive, but ahead of the competition as far as pricing, personalization and the shopping experience.

They make sure that every little thing, every click you make every scroll you take, is analyzed, and tangible insights are drawn and implemented back immediately. It’s ruthless.

Here are three key strategies and corresponding tools for online retailers to step up their game.

Personalize the Shopper’s Experience

Think about this way: you walk into a store, a real one, brick-and-mortar. The staff greets every shopper in the exact same way, performs the exact same gestures, smiles identically. How would that make you feel?

Online shopping is no different these days. Customers are expecting a personalized experience.

Personalizing the shopping experience on your site can be done by greeting customers with customized salutations – good morning , afternoon and evening – based on their IP. Or offering similar products based on crowd behavior and using their referral data – ads, search, social etc. – to predict their needs and answer them proactively.

The good news is – you don’t have to invent the wheel by yourself. There are tools available that cover the entire spectrum of personalization, alongside more specific tools that deal with nuanced aspects of personalization.

There are numerous tools out there, and each to his own, but one that gives a complete solution for e-commerce site personalization is Commerce Sciences. Their SaaS-based solution personalizes the entire shopping journey on your site, whether the visitor is first-timer or a returning one.

Optimize Your Pricing

When you see a price tag that ends with a 9, or 99, you know you are being manipulated, but it still works on you. That is, in a way, the prehistoric stone tool of pricing optimization.

Pricing optimization in the digital age is applying mathematical analysis to determine how customers will respond to different prices and deduce the optimal price that maximizes sales on the one hand, and operational profits on the other.

What makes this even more challenging is that it’s carried out in real time, and prices of the same product can change by the minute based on price elasticity calculations of the entire market of said product.

Confused? Of course you are. What you need is a dynamic pricing optimization tool, such as UpstreamCommerce, that uses statistical prediction analytics to recommend and set for you the right price for each and every product, in real time.

Let Your Customers Check Out Smoothly

Shopping cart abandonment is the Achilles’ heel of online shopping; 97% of shoppers leave the shop without buying. It’s odd in a way; you don’t see tons of shoppers drop their baskets in line for the cashier and walk out of a store. But online it’s practically the default.

Online retailers, and e-commerce platforms, do their outmost best to simplify and shorten the checkout process. They know they need customers to pay as quickly as possible in order to lose less of them on the way.

One company has come up with the ultimate solution – credit-card-less checkout. The point when most shoppers abandon is when they need to fill out their credit card details. So with Klarna, a solution that can be implemented in every online shop, shoppers just input personal details, click BUY and they’re done. Klarna later takes care of billing them for you after the purchase has been completed. It simplifies the checkout and billing process for shoppers and shop owners alike.

Go Out There and Sell Stuff

This was just the tip of the iceberg, but you have to start somewhere. Use these three key tactics to sharpen your competitive edge.

And don’t forget – you operate online where different rules apply. You have to play the game in order to survive and strive. There’s no more important game online than the one of presence and awareness. On top of all of the above, you should make an effort to increase your web presence, like detailed in this eTraffic article. This is not a one-time effort but a continuous one – once you start you can never stop. It’s like going to the gym. You can go for years and build your physique, but once you stop your body will wither in no time. So keep at it.

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