Written by: Noah Rue
You can’t open or run an e-commerce business without thinking about the 800-pound gorilla that happens to be in the same industry. Amazon.com is a great company with an incredible customer reputation. With the website’s popularity, it is no wonder that customers go directly to Amazon for 44% of their product searches.
But they aren’t the only game in town. You also have a great e-commerce business, and you want to make a living selling the products that you love. It may seem impossible, being David to Goliath, but you can successfully compete with some smart techniques. Here are a few tips.
Improve your SEO
Since your business is exclusively online, you need people to find you, so you must bone up on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You likely know that SEO is how you improve your site to get more attention on search engines, but it is more than just having a colorful website. For instance, you should have prominent H1 and H2 header tags that direct the customer and search engine’s attention to keywords specific to your goods and services.
The search engines are looking for content that really helps the customers. To that end, your product descriptions should be engaging and have unique content. Google will frown upon websites that have duplicated content on multiple pages, so make each product description count and add as many pertinent details as possible.
Proper SEO also means having a quick website with minimal loading times. Amazon pages usually load without delay, so if consumers go to your website first, and it is slow, they will probably just hop over to Amazon so they can buy it there. To get faster pages, you can compress the content of your site with fewer images or talk to your website provider about improving your bandwidth.
Clearly Define Your Shipping and Returns
Not only does Amazon sell just about everything, but they also have shipping and returns policies that customers really like. In fact, they even have same-day shipping in some instances. If your customers cannot receive an item within a reasonable amount of time, that may be enough for them to head to your competitor.
You may not be able to offer next day shipping as it can be a bit expensive. However, you can offer free shipping when customers hit a particular price point, say orders over $50. Not only will that give you an edge, but it will encourage customers to add more to their carts to meet that shipping threshold.
As far as returns go, try not to be too restrictive. Amazon will let you return just about anything, so have some leniency. If possible, have free returns within 60 days, or if you cannot have free returns, you can set up an account with a shipper like FedEx so you can offer discounted labels.
No matter what, make sure to have your shipping and return policies and all other important information clearly stated on the site. This will save customers’ time from having to ask, and it will provide the push they need to make a purchase.
Human Customer Service
You can set your e-commerce site apart from Amazon and many other businesses by offering helpful customer service. All too often, you call customer services departments for utilities or online shops, and the representatives are unfriendly and unsympathetic to customer issues. Change this by taking the time to train all customer service reps on how to welcome customers who call, chat, or email, and provide fast and friendly assistance.
While having automated systems in place can help to understand the core of an issue, you should have a real-life human being on the other end of the line who can modify how they react to any given situation. You will want to have quick response times and rules in place for your team so no customer is left hanging. That could include requiring chat responses within two minutes, emails answered within 48 hours, and so on.
You should also have a system in place for responding to negative reviews. Responses should include a greeting, apology, and, most importantly, a solution. That could be offering a discount the next time around, or at a minimum, giving them a contact number that they can reach you at right away. Never fight with customers. Always be professional and take each review as a learning experience to better your company.
Yes, Amazon is a major competitor, but that doesn’t mean you have to be left in the dust. Do your best to improve your processes, and your e-commerce business will have the best opportunity to thrive.