When shoppers want to buy something online, 44% of them check Amazon first, and 10% visit the websites of major retailers like Walmart or Target. Comparatively, only 6% of shoppers make a brand’s website their first stop. As a small business owner, you need to be strategic if your website is going to be shoppers’ first click.
Why Online Shoppers Choose Amazon
Why is Amazon so popular? It’s not just because shoppers can get nearly anything on the e-commerce site. Most shoppers are drawn to Amazon by two-day shipping and the ability to conveniently order household basics that they’d otherwise have to drive to the store to get. That doesn’t seem like a high bar to beat. After all, Amazon is hardly the only e-commerce store with fast shipping, and most small businesses aren’t selling batteries and toilet paper, but rather apparel, accessories, personal care products, and other non-necessities. However, it’s not just Amazon’s speedy service and product selection that small businesses are competing against, but their ubiquity.
In order for shoppers to think of your small business before Amazon, you need to do more than compete with Amazon’s service — although it is important. You also need to offer what Amazon lacks: a good story and a personal touch.
Building an E-Commerce Site that Stands Up to Amazon
Before you can think about being better than Amazon, you need to make sure your small business’s e-commerce site meets the standards that Amazon shoppers have come to expect.
First, an excellent website. If your website has slow load times, frequent downtime, or isn’t easy to use and navigate, shoppers won’t stick around to see what great products you have to offer. A good website starts with a good hosting provider, so do your research and choose your web host carefully. While price is important, finding a host with dependable uptime, strong security, and 24/7 user support is more important than saving a few dollars per month. InMotion is one hosting provider that offers these features, along with an excellent 90-day money back guarantee, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right host for you. Compare hosting providers and weigh the pros and cons to choose a web host that will keep you and your customers happy.
In addition to being easy to navigate, it’s important that your website has graphics that pop and that your look easily catches the consumer’s eye. If you’re not savvy with graphic design, you will want to invest in a graphic designer for your website (and your marketing materials!). The right designer will create visuals that make your website stand out and that match up with your product and overall look. You can look to freelance graphic designers to get the job done, but keep in mind that anyone you hire needs to have a specific skill set: well versed in graphic design tools (such as Adobe CC), experience with ad (web and mobile as well as print) design and the ability to handle UI and UX design. Be upfront about the scope of the project and the timeline to make sure you and your candidate are on the same page before contracting.
Since fast shipping is the top reason customers choose Amazon, make sure you’re competitive on this point too. Nearly half of e-commerce customers abandon a purchase if shipping isn’t free, and 26% leave without buying when shipping takes too long. That doesn’t mean you have to let shipping costs cut into your profits, however. By building shipping costs into product pricing, using free shipping to upsell, and getting orders out the door quickly with tracking information, you can look out for customers’ desires and your bottom line.
Building an E-Commerce Site that Stands Apart from Amazon
A solid website and convenient shipping is the baseline for e-commerce businesses today. You need it to avoid driving customers away, but it won’t drive customers to your site. That’s where your small business’s story comes in.
Amazon may be convenient, but the e-commerce giant is far from personal. By engaging customers with a compelling story and offering personalized service, you can deliver a level of service Amazon can’t match.
Showcase your brand’s story and personality on your website through photographs, product descriptions, and blog posts. After getting email addresses, use email marketing to keep customers engaged with your story and encourage repeat shoppers with promotions, birthday discounts, and other special offers. When customer service is needed, go beyond the bare minimum to provide personalized, authentic support. Remember: If shoppers can find a product anywhere, you need customer experience to make them choose you.
Your small business may never log numbers that compare to Amazon’s, but that doesn’t mean you can’t compete with major online retailers. However, it’s important to remember that competing isn’t just about doing the same things that Amazon is doing. As important as a great website is, what makes customers choose your small business is all the things big-box stores can’t offer.