In a world where mega retailers and resellers such as Amazon, Expedia and Selfridges dominate Google’s first page, it’s understandable that 2017’s online vendors may be thinking – ‘How do I compete with the resellers?’. These guys set customer expectations high, and to compete you’ve got to go above and beyond.
It may seem daunting, to being going up against the big dogs but it can be done and the rewards are worth the elbow grease.
By putting some careful thought into what you can offer the customer that others can’t and making sure you get the basics right (and I mean really right), then you’ll be well on your way to growing your revenue in the right way, and Silverbean are here to guide you through that process.
Make their weakness your greatest strength
Ever heard the saying “jack of all trades, master of none”?
Well, this phrase couldn’t be more suited to the likes of Amazon. With such a broad product range it is impossible for giant retailers and resellers to be specialists in one niche and you can, and should, use this to your advantage. Mega-retailers like Amazon or Expedia can’t touch you when it comes to being a specialist in your area, whether that be luxury beauty, high-end fashion, bespoke furniture or luxury adventure holidays. You have the upper hand here, utilise it.
To stand out, you must understand the niche within your product range, make it your speciality and show you really know your stuff – customers expect greater information from the specialists, after all.
Think about how you can build up a wealth of useful, engaging content around your niche to really show off your expertise (Silverbean’s Useful Content Checklist will give you a good start).
Offer insight to customers which they won’t find in Amazon’s laborious and generic product content that encompasses the FULL customer journey– think along the lines of “How To” guides for things the layman wouldn’t necessarily know for the motive development stage, personal experiences of the products you sell perhaps using bloggers, video content of the products in use or detailed care, maintenance and cleaning information to help customers post-purchase.
For example, let’s say your site sells luxury beauty cosmetics, just like Charlotte Tilbury. It’s also worth nothing that the concept is the same regardless of the sector you operate within, providing you’re a specialist in your field.
What would your customers want to know?
Think about what your customer’s interests would be – in this case, it’s likely to be luxury beauty products and fashion – and build content around that, such as blog posts on the best lipstick colour for summer, or the latest eye makeup trend.
This kind of information helps users throughout the customer journey, helps to cement your place as an authority within your niche and grows your search visibility by allowing you to rank for a broader range of terms relating to your industry.
Go long (tail)
The mega retailers generally dominate the first pages for general terms, so rather than putting all your efforts into ranking on page one for general terms, long tail keywords are a much more valuable route to go down for the little guy.
Long tail keywords are those three and four keyword phrases which are very, very specific to whatever you are selling. You see, whenever a customer uses a highly specific search phrase, they tend to be looking for exactly what they are actually going to buy. In virtually every case, such very specific searches are far more likely to convert to sales than general generic searches that tend to be geared more toward the type of research that consumers typically do prior to making a buying decision.
Stephen Murray – wordtracker.com
For example, a user may search for ‘waterproof jackets’ when they’re researching what products are available on the market. Once they’ve found a jacket that interests them they are much more likely to go again with a specific long tail term like ‘Buy XL Berghaus Mera Peak Red Dahlia jacket’ as they seek out the best deal.
By targeting longer tail keywords in your content and metadata you won’t necessarily rank on page one for the general terms, but you can draw users to your site when the intent to buy is much greater.
Master the basics
So you’ve got your content game on point – but have you addressed the basics?
Here are the fundamentals which are expected by users (and Google) in any e-commerce experience, and necessary for you to battle it out with the resellers:
We told you about the importance of mobile as part of our advice for e-commerce retailers in 2016, and guess what – it’s still very important.
In fact, it’s more important now.
It’s not just customers who expect your site to work on any device, Google recently announced that it now indexes sites on a mobile-first basis. Basically, if customers can’t access your site on their mobile then Google doesn’t want to know about you, and you could be missing out on lot of valuable organic visitors – AKA potential customers.
Don’t just take my word for it, the whole Silverbean search team said the same thing in our predictions for SEO in 2017.
Omnichannel customer service
Not only do customers expect to be able to access your site at a time that suits them, but also they expect to have any problems dealt with pronto and on any platform they choose.
Social media plays a huge role in this, in what is known as an omnichannel customer service.
While many retailers see social as a way to push out marketing messages to the masses, customers see each channel as a way to contact brands and businesses direct – you need to find a healthy balance between the two and be prepared for questions, queries and even complaints on any platform at any time.
Plus, having active social channels gives you another output for sharing all that wonderful content you’ve created to support your product range or fantastic holiday trips, which in turn helps to build your audience, promote engagement and earn backlinks!
Customers don’t necessarily expect delivery to be free, especially for bigger items like sofas, but they do expect it to be reasonable and reliable. In fact, a 2016 survey by AlixPartners revealed that over a third of users abandoned shopping carts because the cost of delivery was too high. So if you are unable to offer it to users for free, then affordable and dependable delivery is the least they will expect.
Finally, it should go without saying these days but always be unique with your site content. This is where smaller sites often drop the ball by copying the manufacturer’s descriptions word for word.
Customers don’t expect to hear the same spiel wherever they go and Google isn’t a fan of duplicate content either – it can (and will) earn you a penalty down the line – so take the time to make sure the content on your site can’t be found anywhere else.
Let me warn you, this is no quick task to be looked at once and then left to itself.
If you really want to compete online against the mega retailers and renowned resellers, then you have to put in the time and effort to ensure that all of these points are firstly ticked off, then maintained to a high level ongoing.
The web is a ruthless place, so you’ve got to be a ruthless e-commerce superstar to draw in the crowds.
Here at Silverbean we are true experts in delivering digital strategies to help you compete with the very best. If you want to realise your potential as an e-commerce retailer, we’d be more than happy to rise to the challenge. Just get in touch if you want any more information.