Online shopping has been on the rise and the pandemic accelerated the segments growth to new heights while fostering more competition amongst retailers and e-tailers. While the segment has seen tremendous growth, the major players at the top have not seen as much change, with Amazon remaining the dominant player for online sales in many industries. Their Prime delivery service, voucher ecosystem and their easy-to-use returns and refunds policies make the online retailer a constant unyielding presence that is hard to compete with. In this article we’ll be exploring a few ways that IT resellers can compete with online giants like Amazon & eBay.

As an independent retailer, you will more than likely lack the size and capacity to take advantage of economies of scale or have the levels of brand awareness and salience that put you at the forefront of most shopper’s minds. This doesn’t mean you can’t compete with bigger stores; it just means that your opportunities for growth lie elsewhere.

Service and Convenience

These are areas where businesses can stand out and improve their relationships with customers. The guiding principle here is simple, shoppers are more likely to shop with you if their experience is positive or better than your competitors. There are lots of opportunities to augment your service at almost every stage of the buying process.

The early stages of a transaction are crucial and ensuring quality, and consistency, in how all staff are trained can go a long way to starting things off on the right foot. For resellers with brick-and-mortar stores, offering pick-up services for customers can differentiate you in a crowded high-street, just make sure they feel comfortable and welcome at your store, in-person or online. Loyalty programmes are another great example of service-based offerings that can help you remain competitive. Show your appreciation to customers by rewarding their spending with you with discounts or exclusive perks.

With the customer experience in mind, ensure that the end of your customer’s purchasing journey is also a pleasant experience. Try implementing a fair and easy-to-use returns policy, and comprehensive aftersales support. Buy-back and refurbishment programs are also worth looking into and could also be used to make a rewards program more appealing. Ultimately, if the customer is kept in mind throughout the process, companies can create unique service offerings that best meet their needs.

Expertise

To stand apart from the crowd, create a deeper relationship with customers by offering them sound and useful advice when they need it. Setting up interactive customer support on social media channels is a simple but effective way to share your expertise.  Producing content such as how to guides and step-by-step video tutorials, is more resource-intensive, but the payoff is worth it. Staying informed and demonstrating your knowledgeability, improves the chances of building rapport and establishes credibility with your customers. By showing your expertise, you give consumers the confidence to rely on you when they have questions and concerns, creating a positive impact on their loyalty towards your brand. This kind of trust is extremely valuable, with a third of consumers ranking trust in a brand as one of their top three reasons they choose to shop at a particular retailer, according to PWCs 2021 Consumer Insights survey.

Experience

Independent retailers can drive sales and reinforce their brand identity by curating their shopping experiences. A lot of independent retailers use a multichannel commerce strategy, where they sell across multiple channels (brick-and-mortar, social channels, online marketplaces, their own website etc). While this approach provides more avenues for customers to reach and transact with you, the experience provided by each channel are often disparate. Creating a consistent brand experience everywhere you sell allows you to build relationships that transcend channels. In fact, single channel retailers saw a 58% increase in revenue when they added a marketplace. Aiming for consistency across channels is what nearly 90% of consumers preferring an omnichannel experience.

An omnichannel strategy must be holistic and comprehensive. It depends on a strong foundation, supported by the four pillars of sales channels, marketing and advertising, operations, and shipping and fulfilment.

Although it isn’t easy and requires a bit of creativity, there are plenty of opportunities out there to compete with bigger retailers, but it will be worth it because finding new ways to set yourself from the crowd is a must.