David and Goliath, a tale where the underdog is victorious against all odds. Or is it? Author Malcolm Gladwell offers all manner of intriguing theories about life, business and success, some highly lauded and others greatly contested. In his book Outliers, he refers to the story of David and Goliath, he highlights how David’s size meant he was nimble and responsive while Goliath’s size hindered him. Essentially, he encourages us to question the conventional rationale of success and definitions of advantage and disadvantage. Our blinkered acceptance that bigger is better means that “we underestimate how much freedom there can be in what looks like a disadvantage.” Malcolm Gladwell.
Follow The Leader.
The fundamentals of large sites like Amazon are well oiled and effective. Seek to emulate them. Some features for eCommerce sites are non-negotiable, such as easy navigation, mobile friendly design, fast page load times with powerful, intuitive search, KPI tracking, PCI DSS compliance, product reviews and free shipping. Consider your eCommerce and digital marketing strategy, does it move customers all the way through your sales funnel? It’s all very well having an amazing SEO methodology but if your site isn’t correctly optimised to convert users, it’s likely you’ll experience a high bounce rate.
From Cataloging to Curating.
The very nature of eCommerce is to sell goods or services, cataloguing and curating are two approaches. Those who catalogue aim to offer the greatest choice with the biggest range in the hope of large revenues. Amazon is a perfect example of this. Then there are the curators, they are selective and passionate about the products they sell and the audience they reach. Curators are experts in their industry and want to understand their customers, listening to feedback and offering them the best experience they can. Motivated by product not price and upsells are logic based. Communications with their target market are personal and relevant. To be a curator, use your market expertise and product knowledge to motivate people to buy what you sell.
Tell Your Story.
Your story is one thing that truly sets you apart and is so effective at winning and retaining customers. Social media creates connections and strengthens relationships and engagement. Utilise it to tell your story. Your competitive angle is your story which can be shown to your customers in your marketing. Are you Eco friendly? Community focused? Industry leaders? Customer service driven? Tell us. Why or how did you start your business? Tell us. What makes your product or service stand apart from others? Tell us.
Curate the channels with care, don’t worry about using every platform, focus on the ones that best resonate with your customers. This will build brand awareness and customer engagement alongside driving traffic to your site. Share customer photos of them using your product, this helps potential buyers feel secure in their decision to purchase. In addition, if customers are featured on your website, they’re likely to share this with family and friends across their networks.
Revel in Your Niche.
Pick a niche and own it. Be the expert in your field. Sell items or services that require expert knowledge, then be the expert. Connect with community networking and blog posts.
A blog can be a fantastic SEO provider. Whilst, as an SME you cannot outspend a large competitor, you can out teach them, you can position yourself as a thought leader.
Reach For The Stars.
Good reviews and testimonials show how valued and trustworthy you are and can also be highly motivating for your team. Feedback services such as Feefo and Trustpilot are simple to integrate into your site. Receiving negative feedback isn’t easy but there are just as many ways you can learn and grow from it as positive feedback. It can highlight pinch points and clarify changes necessary to succeed.
It’s important that SMEs don’t get bogged down with the number of complaints or negative reviews they are getting, but how they’ve resolved them.
Feedback helps SME’s recognise and address problems before they escalate and it can draw attention to recurring issues. Customers value a ‘ratings distribution summary’, the Baymard Institute states their ‘research shows that users rely on ratings distribution summaries even more than the content of individual reviews.’ Be responsive, both to customers and in using feedback for your ecommerce strategy as part of your business development. Also consider featuring expert product reviews alongside verified customer reviews are beneficial and lacking on lots of big eCommerce sites.
Know Your Limits.
Outsource. Value your time and skill set and stick to what you’re good at. Some find juggling all the requirements of running a SME easy, others not so much. People have never had it so good in terms of outsourcing. From virtual PAs who will handle your admin and accountancy firms who do the number crunching to comprehensive agency services offering full ecommerce and app design & website development services, you can outsource just about anything. The added benefit of outsourcing is that if times get hard, or working relationships don’t provide positive results, it’s much easier to part ways with a freelancer or agency than an employee.
All SMEs can learn from retail practices of the Behemoths. From the eCommerce platforms and polished UX to the application of voice search. But remember this, you can be lots that they aren’t. You can offer personalisation, a human element. You can tell of an item’s provenance. You can package a product in an appropriate sized parcel, not a generic one. You can innovate more easily. You can be responsive. You can adapt with speed and efficiency. Ensuring you’ve accounted for all the fundamentals, you can walk the less worn path. Be unique, be you, throw in free postage and you’ll be onto a winner.
Go for it Dave.