E-commerce Competition Is Intense But You Can Win

Crush the competition in e-commerce before it crushes you

E-commerce Competition
••• Jiangang Wang / Moment Mobile / Getty Images

All of us want to come out on top. We want to see others subordinated to our superiority. Our goal is to dominate. If you do not secretly, or overtly, harbor this desire, then you should not be in e-commerce. In e-commerce, competition is cutthroat. You must have the passion to crush the competition in order to win. Here are some ways to ensure you succeed. Take heed!

Learn from Your Competition

The place to start your quest to conquer is your competition's website. Study it carefully. If you see some good ideas, note them, and implement them on your own site. While doing this, you should, of course, ensure that you are not plagiarizing or violating someone's intellectual property. Note the bad ideas too, because you will have to avoid making the same mistakes. You must go further than that though. You should do better than your competition.

Find out how your competitors are pitching their products and services, and what they believe their differentiators are.

On the one hand, you should dilute their differentiators, on the other, you should fiercely guard your own.

Better Purchasing

If you want to beat your competition, you are going to have to establish the best supply chain and maintain the best wholesaler relationships. This does not always mean the cheapest source. If you choose the cheapest wholesaler or distributor, you may end up compromising on quality or reliability.

Better Sales

Many e-commerce professionals make the mistake of only focusing on better sales when considering how to crush their competition. This is only a part of the big picture, though an important one. With better sales, you have more money to drive the operations. However, if operations have leaks in areas such as purchasing, then more money means bigger leaks. You must shore up what you have, then pursue better sales.

Better sales mean not only selling more product for better prices, it means meeting the customer's needs and desires better.

When you fulfill the customer's needs, you have the possibility of driving more sales through return customers. This is not an aspect to be taken lightly.

Better Customer Service

One area that some e-commerce businesses excel in is customer service. They find ways to beat the competition through better customer service. You cannot crush the competition by solely focusing on customer service, but this gives you a significant advantage over the competition.

Better customer service means happier customers, which results in stronger word-of-mouth advertising. We all know how effective word-of-mouth is, especially since we do not have to pay for it. Also, satisfied customers become loyal customers, making multiple purchases.

Better Incentives

Incentive programs help shape the customer's behavior and drive them to your desired action. You give them a positive reward for their action, so they feel like they have gained some value in return. It is basically a value exchange game. You determine how much value you want to give back to the customer when the customer gives you some value. You should pay careful attention to your competition's customer incentives. Keep abreast of them by checking back regularly. If you are set on crushing the competition, you will have to out-do them every time.

Your reputation will spread, and you will gain more customers. Try not to get the reputation of a bargain basement store, though.

Your incentives can come in the form of discounts, rebates, points earned toward a discount, points earned toward prizes, or any of many other plans. The worst designed incentive plans have ambiguity in the stated rules.

Better Products and Services

Many e-commerce businesses are reticent beating the competition through better products, though they are willing to use better services. The reason is that there is a natural belief that better products automatically mean higher cost, whereas, according to the same bias, better service can be achieved by some generosity of time. This kind of thinking is fundamentally flawed.

Your time is worth money because if you were not busy providing better services, you could be busy promoting your services, or selling them to more customers—ultimately, making more money.

Also, the assumption that better products mean higher cost is not necessarily true. It can be offset by locating the right wholesaler for that product, or by cheaper distribution channels.