Make your online store competitive

In the last few years Australian companies have really embraced e-commerce and the potential it has to add to their revenue streams. Providing an online store can be a great way to improve the reach and success of your business. At the same time, if you’re planning your first entry into the highly competitive world of e-commerce, then you need to make sure that you’re going to be able to compete.

Here are some of the things to consider ahead of your store’s launch:

1. Who are your online competitors? – They’re not always the same as your bricks and mortar competitors. Here your boutique bookstore only has to compete with the Dymocks at the other end of the main shopping street. Online you’ll be facing down Amazon, Dymocks, Borders, Booktopia and more. Know your competitors.

2. What are your competitors doing right? – The major businesses online are successful for a reason, understand that reason and you’ll gain valuable insight in how to make your online store a winner.

3. What are your competitors doing wrong? – Just because they’re successful doesn’t mean they’re doing everything right. A big complaint for Amazon users in Australia is that we’re basically subsidizing their free shipping offers in the US and UK by paying so much to have things delivered here. Spot a competitors weakpoint and you may just find the edge you need.

4. Identify a point of difference – It’s true that most e-commerce purchasing is based on price (the internet makes it easy to find a great deal) but that’s not the only way to distinguish your business. Do you stock rare or high value items? Do you offer free or flat-rate shipping? Do you have an ongoing support program that is world-leading? Identify what sets you apart from and above your competitors and then proclaim that loudly.

5. Are you in it for the long haul? – It’s awfully tempting to think of e-commerce as an easy way to make a quick buck, but the very best e-commerce sites are those that continue to grow and evolve. This means integrating new systems, new product lines, new services and new thinking into your project as you go. It’s no longer good enough to simply build a site and expect to sit back while your bank balance grows, make sure you’re planning for the next 5-10 years of your online business while you’re building for the next 2-3 years.   This just scratches the surface, but don’t be put off the idea of adding an online component to your business. The risks can be minimized when properly understood and managed ahead of time, while the rewards can be great if you pay attention to getting the details right.