True differentiation is one of the most difficult things to accomplish in the e-commerce world. When you differentiate your company from your competitors, you’re building brand awareness and helping to ensure that people will remember your website after their experience has ended. That’s how you encourage repeat business and increase the chance that customers will go directly to your website when they want to buy instead of searching on Google for the product that they want and going to whatever website appears first on the results page. Anything that prevents you from needing to rely on Google for your web traffic can be truly transformative for your e-commerce business.
Telling a business owner that differentiation is important, however, is stating the obvious. You already know that differentiation is the key to building a strong brand with great name recognition. The hard part is knowing how to do that – so in this article, we’re going to provide some real-world examples to get your creative juices flowing.
Create a Visual Design That Stands Out
One of the best ways to differentiate your website is by making sure that it doesn’t look like your competitors’ websites. If you’ve spent a bit of time on some of the many websites on the Shopify e-commerce platform, for instance, you’ve probably noticed how similar many of them look to one another. You’ve probably also noticed that it can be very difficult to remember the names of any of those sites after you’ve left them. Visual design has a lot to do with the overall branding of a website, and it’s a large part of what makes you remember the various online stores that you visit.
So, if you want to differentiate your e-commerce website from the competition, you can’t just use a pre-built WooCommerce or Shopify theme; you need to build a website that doesn’t look like everything else out there. You might incur some development expenses along the way, but the good news is that freelance designers often charge very affordable rates – and anything that increases your site’s ability to generate revenue is going to be worth it in the long run.
In some industries – fashion, for example – it’s completely acceptable to come up with a design that looks completely off the wall. Look, for instance, at what the web designers at Uniqlo have done with their website over the years. It’s hard to forget a website that looks so unique, and you can give your website that same level of notoriety with a similarly unique design.
Do Something Difficult That Your Competitors Are Avoiding
Another way to differentiate your company in the crowded e-commerce field is by doing something that your competitors don’t want to do because it’s difficult. Two examples of that are finding a source for products that are hard to find and shipping to regions that your competitors aren’t serving. Premium Vape is a company that does both of those things. They’re a vape shop based in New Zealand. They’ve gone through the trouble of establishing relationships with distributors around the world, and they’ve also built a worldwide logistics network that allows them to ship almost anywhere. Their effort has made it possible for them to offer JUUL pods in Australia and other regions even though JUUL isn’t officially available in Australia or New Zealand. Their willingness to do the work that their competitors aren’t doing has given them a revenue stream their competitors don’t have and has created a protective moat around their business. You can do the same things for your business with a little ingenuity and creativity. It’s simply a matter of doing the work that your competitors are unwilling to do.
Sell a Product That Is Entirely Yours
One of the most difficult aspects of differentiating your company in the world of e-commerce is that it can be incredibly difficult to establish a unique selling proposition if you’re a reseller as so many e-commerce businesses are. Being a reseller means you’re offering the same products that your competitors sell. You can differentiate your company by offering those products at better prices or by offering a shopping experience that’s better in some way, but it’s hard to build your own brand when the products you’re selling have someone else’s brand on them.
If you really want to break away from the pack and establish your e-commerce site as something truly different, one of the best ways to do that is by selling a product your competitors don’t have.
Creating and launching a completely new product isn’t necessarily realistic for everyone. Maybe you’re not sure how you would manufacture a product and obtain the necessary legal protection for your idea. Maybe you don’t even have an idea for a product that you think would be successful.
One thing that you can do, though, is buy the rights to an existing product if you can raise the necessary capital to do so. Throughout the history of business, it’s been proven over and over that one of the best ways to grow a company is by buying other companies. You might be able to find a business in your industry that’s either looking to sell its assets or is having trouble staying afloat. By buying that company, you’d obtain its intellectual property, and you’d gain access to its supply and production chain. If the company has been around for a while, maybe you’d even become the owner of something with real heritage and provenance. It’s a great way to give yourself a leg up over your competitors.
Offer a Better Shopping Experience
If you don’t have the capital to buy or create a unique product, you still have the ability to offer a shopping experience that’s better than what your competitors are offering. Some companies make the shopping experience more fun by offering free samples with every order. Other companies create customer loyalty programs that increase engagement by making the buying process feel like a game. Another way to make the buying experience more fun is by building a website that feels like a native app on mobile devices. Everyone knows how to shop on a standard Shopify or WooCommerce website, and ease of use is certainly a good thing – but sameness isn’t fun or interesting. You should never assume that the standard way of doing things is the best way. By building a shopping experience that’s better in some way, you can really take your e-commerce site into the stratosphere.