Staying ahead of the contenders is the key to success in any competitive endeavor. This is also true for the small business. However, this can be a challenge when you are up against opponents who are bigger or faster. This is one successful small business owner’s perspective for staying ahead of your competition online. Understanding these areas of focus is central to gaining the competitive edge:
It is important to know your competitors and know what they do well. Study your competition and determine their strengths. For example, if they excel at social media, clean checkout or running specials, make sure that what you offer is up to par so that you can both tap into their success and not loose an edge because you are not as good.
It often comes back to this point, but it is an area that is multi-layered and can really set the smaller business apart. As an overarching goal, you should aim to wow your clients with your customer service. This means that you respond to email inquiries in a prompt manner, whether they are general questions or questions about a specific order. A quick response can make the difference between a customer choosing your site or bouncing over to another one.
Next, keep your existing customers informed. Even if you have to inform them of a backorder, telling them about it prevents them from being surprised or from making plans for goods or services that you are unable to deliver as expected. An email update and even a personal phone call can make the difference between a loyal customer and a lost customer.
In any company, technology is central to success. Staying on top of your ecommerce platform is essential for maintaining both optimal site performance and for allowing your company to grow. Making sure that your site is scalable should be part of your business plan. For example, if you are carrying a large inventory, make sure you consider the size of your database and what it can handle. Essentially, making the wrong choice will send customers directly to your competitors if the result is pages taking too long to load or your site crashing.
Your technology goal should be to continually improve the shopping experience for the consumer. Whether it is streamlining the checkout process or adding new features that make the site easier to use, your technology should both streamline the customer experience and set you apart from your competition.
It is clear that when it comes to gaining the competitive edge, these details are of critical importance. Knowing your competition, focusing on customer service and maintaining and improving your technology provide the backbone to success for any business and are essential for staying ahead of your online competition.
Todd Messinger is the owner of ReplaceMyContacts.com, an ecommerce site that offers a wide variety of discount contact lenses. This site has been up and running successfully for more than four years. Todd’s background overseeing operations and marketing in a large retail chain aided in preparing him for the ongoing challenges etailers face every day.