June 24, 2014

How to Stand Apart From the Crowd: Differentiation in E-Commerce

Posted by Janeesa Hollingshead Category IconConversions & UX Category IconInternational Category IconNews & Trends

E-commerce websites currently comprise 10-12% of the Internet; by the time this blog is posted, there will roughly be $1.5 trillion online market. The digital sales space is booming, but competition is causing a growing concern for online merchants: differentiation.

In a recent article by Karon Thackston, the marketing content expert details the struggles one of her clients faced in e-commerce: the company’s website didn’t suffer from poor search engine optimization, design, or reviews, but sales were flatlined. Upon examination, Karon found that her client’s web users browsed the site for quite some time… and then simply left. She concluded that her client suffered from a lack of clear differentiation when compared to other online merchants.

In past blogs, we’ve often discussed the benefits of borderless selling. The benefits are numerous, but merchants must also anticipate and prepare for this particular challenge that the globalization of e-commerce brings with it. As Karon states in her article, “Generally speaking, most grocery stores carry nearly the same things. So how did you decide to shop at the one you frequent most? Chances are it was because of the store’s location. Online, we don’t have that advantage.”

So how can you get around the differentiation hurdle? Start out by listing the ways in which your particular store addressees important customer concerns that could potentially set you apart. Need help getting started? Here are a few points to consider in addition to the differentiating factors Karon discusses in her article:

  • Do you have unique, well-known customers? Post testimonials, reviews, or case studies prominently on your website.
  • Is there a brick and mortar aspect to your business? Some consumers may be excited about the fact that they can touch and see your product before purchasing online. Let them know where they can find your tangible goods with a store locator on the homepage.
  • Has your company won any awards? Make sure to mention the fact in a noticeable section of your website.
  • Do you offer special product or shipping pricing or discounts? Note this before customers ever reach the checkout page—it could make the difference between a customer and a bounced user.
  • Do you offer loyalty programs or other incentives to repeat customers? The reward to customers for purchasing (and continuing to purchase) from your website over other etailers’ can be a powerful reason for browsers to become purchasers.

How do you make your e-commerce website stand out in the digital crowd? Let us know your thoughts & suggestions in the comments below!