To run their own business, to tell their story, to outlet creativity—these are just a few of the reasons why people start an ecommerce business. Whatever your goal for selling online, you can succeed if you crush your competition. Because let us tell you—it’s a jungle out there.
There are at least 2 billion ecommerce companies worldwide and business is booming—by 2021 ecommerce sales are estimated to hit $4.5 trillion. The online demand for goods is increasing, and so is the competition among sellers to market their products.
So, what can you do to be the go-to shop for your customers?
We’re sharing nine tips on how you can outshine your competitors by improving your online store. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting an online store or already have experience in ecommerce—the competition’s the same for everyone, and here’s how you beat it!
Know Your Unique Selling Point
Your unique selling point (USP) is a quality that you have, but your competitors don’t. It can be anything from free shipping to selling only eco-friendly products.
If you don’t have a USP, then customers won’t find your store any different from your competitors. Figure out your USP from the get-go by asking yourself these questions:
- What goods am I selling?
- Who am I selling them to?
- Why would anyone buy from me?
Write down your answers and define your USP—short and straightforward.
TOMS, a company that sells shoes and accessories, does a good job of communicating their USP. Their message is straight to the point, includes their product statement, plus a clever wordplay and vibrant visuals to help the USP stand out.
Here’s where you can feature your USP within your store:
- On your Homepage, so your customers know right away why they should order from your store
- In the About Us page to tie it in with your brand story or mission (for example, donating to charity)
- In your listings to show your USP in context with your products
Are you still figuring out your brand’s uniqueness? Here’s an in-depth guide that will help you create a USP.
Sell Print-on-Demand & Dropshipping Products
Print-on-demand (POD) and dropshipping are business models where you sell third-party products on your storefront without keeping inventory. The products are kept in a third-party warehouse and shipped to your customers on your behalf.
Print-on-demand focuses on print products like t-shirts, mugs, and posters, that you can customize with your designs. The way print-on-demand works is—say you have an online store and are using a print-on-demand service like Printful. When a customer orders something from your store, your print-on-demand company receives the order and you get a notification. The company then prints, packs, and ships the product to your customer on your behalf.
Dropshipping works similarly to print-on-demand in terms of selling products from third-party suppliers and fulfilling incoming orders on your behalf. The only exception is dropshipping doesn’t print on the products. You’re selling ready-made goods like gadgets, toys, and jewelry as long as you can outsource them.
Now that we covered what’s what, the question is—how can print-on-demand and dropshipping help you sell more than your competitors?
One of the main advantages is you can offer your customers a wide range of items to choose from.
Both print-on-demand and dropshipping let you add a variety of product listings. Since you don’t have to invest money in buying inventory, there’s no risk if your products don’t sell. But if everything works out—you have a new best-seller!
Take a look at what your competitors sell and see what they’re missing so you can add it to your store. Customers are more likely to order all they need from one place. If you keep updating your store with products relevant to your niche, you’re on your way to becoming your customers’ one-stop shop.
Another major advantage is you can create customizable print-on-demand products to expertly match your niche. Around 36% of consumers are interested in custom-made goods from niche brands. Creating unique designs for print-on-demand products is a way to cater to this customer base.
See an example of GupStyle’s products marketed towards nurses who also happen to be fans of Harry Potter, Scrubs, and Friends.
Have your target audience in mind and unleash your creativity with customizable products. To get started with dropshipping and print-on-demand, here’s our list of dropshipping and print-on-demand apps to grow your business with.
Sell Trendy Products
Offer products people actually want by keeping up with the hottest product trends. Since not all ecommerce stores focus on trendy products, here’s where you can stand out!
When you’ve found the goods you want to sell, check for dropshipping suppliers who’ll provide you with the products to fulfill the incoming orders.
Head to platforms like AliExpress (AliExpress Alternatives), Wish, or apps like Oberlo and Spocket (Spocket Review). Look for multiple suppliers for each product in case one or the other supplier runs out of stock.
If you connect with your suppliers through a dropshipping app like Oberlo, you can list the products and start promoting them immediately. Once your customer buys a product, the dropshipping app you’re using will get the order and ship it out on your behalf.
If you find the products on marketplaces like AliExpress, you’ll need to find a way to order and stock them. You’ll have two options for order fulfillment—ship out the products yourself or find a warehouse that’ll store and ship the goods to your customers for you.
To get started with warehousing, send your inventory to the warehouse you’ve chosen and list the products in your store once they’re stocked. Fulfilling orders through warehousing will add to additional costs, but it will buy you time for marketing your goods. Besides, you can even out the warehousing costs by adding them to your products. And if the prices get too high, it’s just a matter of knowing how to market your premium items.
To sum up, listing trendy products in your store requires time and effort, but it’s worth it. Selling popular products can increase traffic to your site because people will be searching for those trends. Just keep in mind to follow your listed product relevance—some trends can be short-lived and disappear within weeks.
See What’s Upcoming in Graphic Design
Keeping your storefront looking fresh attracts customers and creates an enjoyable user experience for them. Did you know that 75% of people evaluate a company’s credibility based on how their website looks?
Stay up to date with visual trends. Implement design trends in your brand’s online presence, and you’ll stand out from the rest and attract more attention than your competitors.
Graphic design trends play a part in everything from fonts and colors to illustration styles and web elements. See what’s trending by doing a Google search or browsing through creative platforms like Behance, Shutterstock, and 99designs. When looking at trends, keep your brand’s personality in mind and choose the trends that complement it.
What to do with the trends you’ve found? Take some inspiration for your next product photo shoot or social media post and come up with new designs for banners, ads, or pop-ups.
Be sure to check graphic trends at least once a year to keep up with what’s new and ditch the trends that have outlived themselves.
Study Customer Buying Habits
Knowing current buying habits can help you find the right angle for showcasing your products. Get ahead of your competition by reading the latest reports on consumers.
You’ll find plenty of consumer reports online. We recommend Mintel’s annual consumer trend report. It’s reputable, easy to skim, and comes with helpful visuals and infographics. To stay customer-focused when researching, look at:
- Where consumers search for products
- What the consumers value
- How social factors (family, friends, media) impact buying decisions
Use your findings in your storefront and communication with customers. You can change product descriptions, offer same-day order fulfillment, or post different content on social media, depending on what you’ve learned to be valued by customers.
Your customers will appreciate that you’re following retail industry news and will be more likely to choose you over your competitors.
Ensure Fast Order Fulfillment & Shipping
Amazon has spoiled consumers with its fast shipping. They’re not the only ones—51% of retailers also offer same-day delivery. And now more than 50% of consumers claim same-day shipping to be their main purchase driver.
Lightning-fast order fulfillment has become a crucial part of ecommerce. Many ecommerce startups haven’t hopped on board yet, so offering same-day shipping is one of the ways you can surpass them.
If you’re selling goods you’ve made yourself and can’t ship out the orders on time—use third-party logistics (3PL) and delight your customers with same-day shipping.
3PL services usually offer storing your goods and connecting with your store so they can receive, process, and ship incoming orders under your brand. 3PL services work similarly to dropshipping with the only exception being that you have to purchase your products in advance and send them to your chosen 3PL partner.
If you sell globally, look for a 3PL partner with warehouses close to your customers, so they receive their orders quicker. To reach global markets, partner up with Printful’s Warehousing & Fulfillment that has warehouses in the USA and Europe. They’ll pick, pack, and ship your orders from the nearest Printful warehouse where you keep stock.
Printful’s Warehousing & Fulfillment offers same-day shipping for orders placed by 12 PM and next-day shipping for those submitted after noon. Thanks to same-day fulfillment, your customers will get their orders fast, even on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas.
In short, offering your customers same-day shipping is a major game-changer with your competitors. Plus, same-day shipping can also be your USP and something to humble-brag about on your social channels!
Use Rich Product Visuals in Your Store
Let’s face it, nobody will buy your products if they don’t look good. We shop with our eyes, so if there’s not much to see, there’s not much to buy. As harsh as it may sound, your product visuals can either make or break a sale.
Here’s how you can up your game with custom-made photos, videos, and zoomable high-resolution photos.
Display Original Photos so it’s Harder to Compare Prices
Product visuals are so important, they’re the dealbreaker for over 70% of consumers. Now hop on eBay or any other marketplace and see how many products are sold with the same photo.
These goods are probably sourced from the same factory and were originally listed with the same photo. However, listing a product with images already used online doesn’t help the product stand out—the only thing that pops is its price. And if you and your competitors have listings with the same photos—you guessed it, your customers will buy the cheapest option.
Before listing your products for sale, order samples and schedule a photo shoot. You’ll kill two birds with one stone—use these product photos in your store and in marketing materials for your social media accounts!
Show Videos that Help Visualize Life with the Product
If you want to take your product visuals up a notch, make short clips showing off the product from various angles. You can even include product showcases that help customers picture themselves with the product and steer them to the Buy button. For example, those kitty butt enamel pins we showed earlier could be placed on a denim jacket, backpack, even shoes.
Including videos in product listings is still a rare practice. But seeing as videos can rocket organic traffic up to 157%, adding product showcases is a no-brainer to get ahead of the competition.
Find a nice setting and film a lifestyle video to highlight your goods. You don’t even need a fancy camera to make videos—smartphones have amazing cameras these days.
When you’ve filmed some material, make the most of it. Use it in your storefront to look more professional, upload it to your social media accounts, and even create ads from it.
Include Product Photos with a Zoom-In Feature
Customers determine product value based on how well they see the details. For garments, they look at fabric, texture, and color to make sure they’re quality items worth purchasing. And if your customers can’t see your products properly, they might turn to your competitors.
Here’s where adding high-quality photos and a zoom-in tool can help you keep your client base.
To start, you’ll need to upload high-resolution photos. Each ecommerce platform has its own suggested product photo sizes, but it’s usually 1028px by 1028px.
Once you have your photos compressed and uploaded, add a zoom-in tool. You’ll find a variety of applications on your ecommerce app listings to choose from. Install whichever you like the best.
Your customers will now be able to view your products in detail and make their purchases with confidence!
Optimize Your Store for Mobile
Online retailers have long been aware that their shop needs to be mobile friendly. More than 60% of all ecommerce traffic came from mobile devices in 2018. Most ecommerce platforms automatically adjust your page to mobile. But there’s more to be done.
You have to optimize your mobile page so it loads quickly and is pleasant to shop in. According to Google, if your page takes more than 5 seconds to load, the probability of a user exiting your shop increases to 90%.
Try Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test your site speed. Just paste in your URL and Google will show you where to improve.
The next thing you should do is place yourself in the shoes of a potential customer. Grab your phone and order something from your store. See what works and what doesn’t—it’s very likely your customers feel the same. Make a list of improvements and start fixing!
Sell on Social Media
About 75% of consumers rely on social networks to decide on their purchases. Plus, 56% of users that follow brands on social media do so to view their products. But selling on social media—not to be confused with promoting on social media—is relatively new.
In a nutshell, selling on social networks is making posts with listed products and a Buy button next to them. Promoting products on social channels is making posts that will redirect to your online shop if there’s a link to click on.
Most businesses are still using Facebook and Instagram to collect likes and raise brand awareness. Up your game and get more sales than your competitors by selling on your social media.
Seeing as Facebook’s US user base has declined by 15 million since 2017, we’d advise you to focus selling on other social media platforms. But don’t ditch Facebook completely—groups and communities are gaining popularity as spaces to interact and share content. Find communities with interests that tie in with your brand and share your products with them. You can also use the discussions between community members as insights for new product ideas!
If your business is based on visual content—focus selling on Pinterest and Instagram. Instagram launched shoppable posts back in 2018. In 2019, the platform introduced Checkout, a feature that lets you pay for your goods and enter your shipping details within the mobile app.
To explore selling and shopping on Instagram, go to Search and pick the Shop tag—you’ll see hundreds of posts with tagged products, each linked to their store. You can list your products via Instagram Stories by including a swipe-up link to your store too, but that’s available to verified profiles and accounts with more than 10,000 followers only.
Pinterest is still developing its full shopping experience but has already introduced Shoppable Pins. You can explore this feature by searching whatever you’d like to buy and Pinterest will show you Pins with shopping tags to products you can purchase.
The last tip we’d like to give you is—divide and conquer.
Make a list of everything you found useful from this post and sort your findings in actionable tasks. Set deadlines and start with tasks that you think your store will benefit from the most. After that, it’s just a matter of doing.
Remember the main reason why you started your online business—and keep it in mind while you work your way towards your goal.