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When you’re a small business owner, major brands such as Amazon can seem completely untouchable. How are you supposed to keep up with competitors that can offer lower prices, greater product selection, and faster shipping than you? Fortunately, business success relies on much more than cheap products and one-day deliveries; in fact, small businesses have some pretty powerful advantages over the established giants. Here’s how to make the most of your small business strengths and keep up with your major competitors.
Know Where to Go for Guidance
If you’re not taking advantage of all the online tools and resources available to you, you’re missing out on valuable help. Everything from blogs and online forums to robust e-commerce wikis can help you learn what you need to know and stay on top of your competition. E-commerce wikis are great for expanding your knowledge of a variety of topics, including A/B testing, email marketing, keyword research, and customer service. Resources like these will not only help you get your business up and running but will allow you to capitalize on your small business strengths.
Get to Know Your Competition
Don’t stop researching your competition once your business plan is complete. Keeping an eye on your competition and monitoring their ongoing behavior is crucial for ensuring your business’ long-term success. By anticipating what your biggest competitors are going to do next, you can plan your business strategies accordingly; this will help you hold onto your customers and even win some over from your competition. To monitor your competition, Inc.com recommends checking out their websites and social media pages, as well as searching for mentions of their brands in the media. You can even use competitor analysis tools like SEMRush and Sprout Social to automate your monitoring strategies.
Focus on Customer Engagement
While you may not be able to beat the prices of your competitors, you can definitely beat them in the customer service department. Major retailers tend to be a bit impersonal and robotic. This can be a big problem because customers want to feel cared for and listened to. Luckily, your small size makes it much easier to make lasting connections with people.
Do everything you can to engage with your customers. On your business social media account, answer questions, respond to compliments, and address concerns as soon as possible. Recent research reported by PR Newswire reveals that 83 percent of customers expect a reply on social media within 24 hours. This goes for customer emails as well. Avoid communicating with generic, cookie-cutter responses, and take every opportunity to connect with your customers on a personal level. Being a genuine human is essential for building trust, satisfying your customers’ needs, and making your audience feel understood.
If you’re getting overwhelmed engaging with customers, consider hiring a freelance customer service representative. You can find qualified customer service representatives and many other professionals for any scope of time through freelance job sites. Another option is to hire a virtual assistant to correspond with customers while you handle other tasks. Life of Automation virtual assistants have the ability and expertise to handle all your business needs.
Be an Authority Figure in Your Industry
Besides a great customer experience, try to provide your customers with useful, beneficial information that will position you as a trusted authority figure in your industry. Your major retail competitors are probably not seen as experts in the products they’re selling. With a niche product and a genuine passion for your industry, you can easily become a source of reliable information for your target audience — and develop a personality for your brand along the way!
You’ll have a much easier time convincing customers to choose you over your competitors if they trust what you’re telling them. Ian Brodie recommends publishing a book and speaking in public, but you can also use your website to develop authority. Add logos of reputable companies you work with or use for product shipping, offer an amazing guarantee, and feature media stories or celebrity endorsements on your site. A simple video of you talking about your brand can also be very impactful to your website visitors.
Many small business owners focus on their small business competitors and don’t try to compete with massive companies like Amazon, but maybe they should! Find out what the big brands are doing poorly and use their weaknesses as strengths. This might just be your ticket to success.