If you stopped someone on the street and asked them about ecommerce, many people would probably first think of one of the larger ecommerce companies utilized by so many. However. there are thousands upon thousands of online stores out there, even though the “giants” command a large portion of the market share.
CNBC reports Amazon alone is on track to take almost 50 percent of the U.S. ecommerce market by the end of 2018, up from its 44 percent stranglehold at the end of 2017. Still, there are plenty of opportunities for specialty retail in ecommerce. It’s simply a matter of finding your niche and positioning yourself to fill consumer wants and needs—beyond what ecommerce giants have to offer.
What’s Your Unique Selling Proposition?
Every online store has a unique selling proposition (USP)—or at least, it should. A USP conveys the value of your store at a glance. It addresses why customers should buy products from your store over a competitor’s. Ecommerce Insiders recommends asking yourself the following questions about your USP: “If you were forced to do so, could you explain your service’s unique value to a person visiting you from another planet? And, would you be able to articulate the value in layman’s terms?”
This is where specialty retailers can shine. Its unlikely small stores will be able to match Amazon and other large merchants when it comes to factors like selection and speedy fulfillment. Thus, it’s futile to try to beat these companies at their own game by stocking every product under the sun or fulfilling orders at the same speed.
A better strategy is differentiating yourself with a USP that speaks to the “specialty” nature of your store. For instance, perhaps you sell only high-quality, handcrafted products. This contrasts with many of the mass-produced items typically available through ecommerce giants. If your store takes an eco-friendly approach to ecommerce, you could emphasize your recyclable packaging materials and toxin-free product lineup. Other ideas include:
- Donating a percentage of sales to a good cause
- Providing ultra-friendly, personalized customer service
- Covering your product lineup with extended warranties
Stop thinking of specialty stores as unable to compete with bigger players and instead get creative in how you position yourself to customers. There’s always something your ecommerce company can do to set itself apart from the pack. What is an ecommerce website, other than an opportunity to show shoppers the value your store can provide them?
Finding Your Brand Niche
One of the advantages ecommerce giants have is the sheer amount of data at their disposal. This helps them understand how customers behave online, which is exceptionally useful for marketing and sales endeavors. Of course, forward-thinking specialty stores can use customer data to drive decision-making, too.
But data isn’t everything in ecommerce. Retail Dive discusses, in terms of apparel, how specialty retailers can excel: “Data can only suggest your customers don’t want skinny jeans anymore. It won’t create the next fashion breakthrough.”
To stand out as a specialty retailer in a competitive marketplace full of large companies, you’ll need to get creative. Focus on curating interesting, personalized experiences for your customers. Figure out what you want your brand to stand for—then find customers prone to buying into the ideas you’re conveying.
Curate the aesthetics of your company in line with the brand personality you’ve established. Make your store one-of-a-kind so it stands out in customers’ minds. There are plenty of opportunities for specialty retail in ecommerce. The key is articulating your unique selling proposition to shoppers.