Five ways small e-commerce businesses can compete with big brands online

Five ways small e-commerce businesses can compete with big brands online

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When you tell yourself “there’s no way I can compete with that brand’s online presence”, are you being pessimistic or realistic? On one hand, not everyone can be the next Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.

The harsh truth is that business is made up of winners and losers. On the other hand, these big brands all had to start somewhere; Amazon was once nothing more than a startup run by a tenacious tech graduate.

The first step for any small e-commerce business competing with a big brand is to recognise that you can beat any big brand’s online presence if you work at it and have the right resources.

However, it’s also important to remember that there’s a lot to win, even if you lose. Your e-commerce website might not beat Amazon, but if you try to, you’ll likely smash all of your other competitors.

To compete with those big e-commerce brands, here are five things you absolutely must do.

1 – Figure out how you’re different…

No matter what you sell, chances are that I can get it cheaper on Amazon. That’s the sad fact of e-commerce. If it’s a race to the bottom, Amazon wins. It’s got more stuff in more warehouses across the world at a cheaper price. If you’re going to beat it, you need to offer something different.

This is your USP: unique selling point. What’s the USP of your business? There are countless variations on the way a product or service can be presented.

Is your product more luxurious? Is it more personalisable? Is it produced more ethically? Do you provide a better service? Do you offer a better quality? Do you do something fun, quirky, odd, surprising, or clever that Amazon does not?

You might even be in one of those very rare niches where Amazon doesn’t sell what you sell. Don’t get complacent, though. There are more competitors out there than Amazon.

Even when you’re in the tiniest of niches, you still need to know what makes you different from and better than your rivals — no matter how few there are.

2 – …but don’t reinvent the wheel

Being different is all well and good, but there’s absolutely no point in being different for no reason. Quirky for the sake of quirky is one of the most cringeworthy and frustrating aspects of some startups.

If you have to tell people that what you do is different, quirky, or alternative and you can’t explain why, then it isn’t different, quirky, or alternative at all.

Amazon is the biggest e-commerce retailer in the world because it got so many things right, so don’t be afraid to copy some of those traits!

3 – Design comes first…

The first thing to note about Amazon’s website — and the first thing you should think about mimicking on your own website — is its design.

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The buy button is top right, the search bar is top centre, there’s a drop down menu which helps you navigate its huge inventory of products. Added to that, all of its sales pitches are “above the fold”. In other words, you can see its sales pitches before you scroll.


Read on to find out how Amazon created the blueprint for how people shop online.


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