Since the invention of the internet, the world has been fundamentally changed in countless ways. Over time, of course, the internet has been developed to be a tool more powerful than we can truly imagine. One of the great strengths of the internet is the ability for ecommerce. For consumers, ecommerce is an appealing alternative to in-person shopping as it is convenient, saves time, and easier to find exactly what it is they are looking for. According to Shopify, the estimated 2020 ecommerce share of total global retail sales is 16.1%, and it is expected to rise to 22% by 2023. Not to mention, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased ecommerce astronomically and will likely have a lasting effect on the industry.
For existing retailers around the world, adapting to an increasingly-online shopping experience has been a difficult transition and still proves to be an ongoing task. Even more difficult, however, is breaking into the already saturated ecommerce industry. While this is a deterrent for many entrepreneurs, it’s important not to get too discouraged. Rather, see the market saturation and expected future growth as a major opportunity. Here are a few tips while you take the time to find and distinguish your competitive advantage.
First off, know what a competitive advantage really is
To be blunt, a company has a competitive advantage when its strategy leads to success (aka better performance than its competitors).
Many strategists have laid out a clear vision for obtaining a true competitive advantage:
Establish your objective
While this may be a clear first step for your company, many firms are objective-less, or just fail to make their objective clear. Having a clear and universal understanding of what your company will strive to achieve is essential. It’s important to note that this is NOT a mission statement. Rather, this is a SMART goal that identifies the tradeoffs of your company strategy and will provide an outline for future decisions. Simply, the objective can be seen as the “why” of your business.
Identify the scope of your strategy
At a glance, the scope includes the who, what, how, and the where of your company’s products.
It’s marketing 101. Identifying the “who”– the target market – takes time but is truly essential. Moreso, truly understanding rather than simply identifying that target market is a key to success. Stepping into the shoes of the buyer to get a more in-depth glance at your clients’ buyer persona will provide major insight in building your strategy and identifying the rest of your business—the what, the how, the where, and more.
The horizontal scope is the more formal term for the “what”, AKA the actual products that your company will be selling. Your product should create value for your consumer in some way—be it through quality, price, or another factor that may be unique to your product.
How & Where
Vertical scope, the “how” of your strategy is an important factor. While the “where” (geographic scope) is clearly online for ecommerce, the how has many options. It’s important to choose the right platform and perfect your digital experience. In fact, we’ve put together a guide for choosing the right platform for your ecommerce business.
Ultimately, these aspects are vital in creating your “strategic statement”—but a good strategic statement will require a bit more thought (and work)
At the end of the day, creating a successful strategy and competitive advantage is much more complex and requires great time and effort. While this is a great place to start, this is in no way an extensive guide. For a last bit of advice, here are a few more things to keep in mind moving forward in building your strategy and competitive advantage:
Strategy is ultimately one of two things: performing different activities or performing similar activities differently.
When we break this down, it’s relatively simple. If you are going to sell different products on your site, that is potentially in and of itself a strategy. Otherwise, if you are going to sell similar products to other companies out there, you have to find a way to do so uniquely. Your strategy should fall into one of these two categories and therefore be sustainable and therefore difficult to replicate.
Your chosen strategy may ultimately have its tradeoffs, and that’s completely acceptable. For example, if you want to position yourself as low-cost, low-price, it may be necessary to sacrifice customization, quality, or other factors. Every strategy and competitive advantage appeals to its own clientele, and that clientele is willing to make sacrifices depending on what they value most when shopping. This is when it is particularly important to have established the who and what of your ecommerce business.
One way to gain an advantage as a new ecommerce business is to have a high-quality website. Here at Americaneagle.com, we have vast experience building successful ecommerce websites. Contact us to learn more.