5 Ways to Remain Competitive in eCommerce

It goes without saying that from time to time, it is imperative that you take a step back, remove yourself from the front lines and take in the bigger picture. Gain some perspective and look at where your business is currently, where you want it to be. How do you know where to expand, which products to introduce/retire? What to improve? And more importantly why? Lets take a look at some key factors to consider when trying to determine your next step… after all the success of your business depends on it!

1. Know Your Competition

So you are happy with your pricing strategy, you have a pretty stable customer base consisting of repeat customers with a somewhat steady flow of new business coming in the e-door. Inevitably, you are going to run into the “new kid” on the e-block, that has a major portion of your customer-base bolting to check out them out. Your initial reaction may be to drop prices or advertise a huge sale in the hopes of immediately attracting your customers back, but this often ends in more pain than gain. You need to take a closer look at what the competitor is actually doing. This requires you to do a little bit of investigative work in getting to know the enemy – the old adage of keep your friends close and your enemies closer certainly rings true in this scenario and will pay dividends in the long run.

2. Be Strategic

Begin with taking a look at the obvious differentiators, like price point for comparable products, return policy, shipping options, and purchase incentives. Once you have a firm grasp of the major items, begin to look at the items that may not be so apparent. Items like page speed, search-ability  and responsiveness all play a major role in your customers willingness to return.

3. Use Analytic Tools

In addition to studying the enemies tricks and optimizing your site to remain relevant, there are also a number of tools that can be used to gain significant in-site into your site’s ability to retain customers once they arrive. A couple tools that provide that immediate extra level of detail are Crazyegg’s Heatmap and Scrollmap tools.

Crazyegg’s Heatmap tool provides customers with the ability to visualize what portions of your site/page are hot and which portions are not interesting to visitors. This provides an additional critical level of detail from other common analytical tools (like Google Analytics) in that Crazyegg can identify which part of the page was clicked and shows you whether it was a link or not.

As eCommerce grows closer to adopting continuous scroll as the standard, it becomes imperative that business owners understand how far down a customer tends to scroll before abandoning the process. With Crazyegg’s Scrollmap tool you can see exactly that, giving your site the advantage of knowing exactly where to add content to hold the visitor’s interest longer.

4. Streamline your Purchase Path

Pay extra attention to the purchase funnel, as this is the most critical stage in the shopping process and where most shopping cart abandonment’s occur. According to Rigor.com 65% of shopping carts are abandoned during the purchase funnel and 46% of online shoppers choose a quick payment path as the primary reason for returning to the site in the future. This indicates that almost half of customers simply want to get in, get their product, and get out.

5. Constantly provide fresh products / content

Perception is reality. If your site is perceived to be one that is constantly providing new, fresh and updated content in the form of sales, product offerings and incentives, you’ll not only keep your existing customer base coming back to see what new and cool things you are selling, but you will also attract the likes of Google, Bing and all the other search engines as relevant. That being said, quantity does not trump quality, and having the vital keywords in your copy can make a world of difference. Take the time to ensure grammatical / spelling mistakes are the exception and not the norm.

Your On-going Responisbility

Staying competitive isn’t something you do once. Its a constant activity that should be factored into your operational model with an annual review (if not quarterly). The eCommerce landscape changes frequently and as such, requires constant tweaking and adjusting to remain on top. Analyze your customers, competition, and lastly yourself and you’ll be in good shape!