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Article from a Guest Expert

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Small eCommerce Companies Compete through Curation

With the looming presence of massive online power players, small ecommerce businesses must use a different set of strategies in order to compete. While large companies like Amazon can attract consumers easily with competitively low prices, and multiple cost advantages, that doesn’t mean small businesses should tuck their tails and run. With strategic curation through a variety of means, small companies can seek to compete with—and in many cases, outdo—huge ecommerce retailers. Driving sales through quality over quantity and specifically selected content means capturing a different type of consumer, and if done correctly can lead to lucrative gains for online business.

     Less Dominant Categories

While large ecommerce companies tend to have hard-line items on lockdown—items like electronics, children’s toys, and other media products—small businesses have found a way to hold their own through less dominant product categories. For example, women’s fashion ecommerce website a href="http://www.lulus.com/">Lulus.com has become a competitor in its own right through soft-line sales of clothing options from companies who are not distributed or easily found on large ecommerce company websites. Focusing on the product base that larger ecommerce companies haven’t tapped makes competition less steep.

     A Different Website Design

Smaller companies can also compete with website design. While large ecommerce companies work largely off of search engines, making the shopping experience one of “I know exactly what I want and I want to find it quickly”, smaller ecommerce sites have found success through visual arrangements of products that allow for perusal over “searchability.” If offered a collection of well-selected items on first sight, consumers are more likely to browse and find items they might not have considered. This strategy works well with consumers who have not come for a specific purchase, and capitalizes on the impulse buy.

     Foster a Community

Smaller businesses can easily foster a community through the right curation tactics. For curated content to sell, you need to understand exactly what your target consumer is looking for, and this is best done through active online community involvement, social media feedback, and website reviews that will help your company better understand how to meet demand and encourage other consumers to try your wares. Watch for what’s working and what isn’t, incorporate the right feedback into your product, and curate the style of product your customers originally came to you for—consistency is key.

     Items You Can’t Find Elsewhere

Consider OfficeDesk.com. This company has continued to be successful against giants like Amazon through curation, presenting a unique and attractive set of products that consumers can’t find anywhere else. Exclusivity sells, and large ecommerce juggernauts can’t handle that demand in the same way. Office Desk creates unique product lines with a distinct collection of office furniture that shoppers won’t locate on large search-related engines.

     Curation through Development

Some companies can compete with ecommerce behemoths through the development of their own products. While this strategy can mean added work through design and sourcing issues, the proprietary rights held by the company mean other online retailers cannot offer them without consent. Developing your own product also means higher gross margins, as you can avoid price competition—you’ll have the only product of its kind.

     Subscription Services

Some smaller ecommerce companies have taken curation to an entirely new level with delivery. This means putting product directly in the laps of consumers, many times before said customer could even consider finding that particular product on a large, search-based ecommerce website. Examples like the popular Birch Box sends a curated collection of products on a monthly basis. Subscription services cover a range of products; from fashion to makeup, comic books to food items, these companies can introduce consumers to their favorite new product—essentially providing the necessities they never knew they were missing.

Ecommerce is the way of the future, with unnumbered advantages over offline brick and mortar stores. The question lies not in whether store fronts can battle against ecommerce giants like Amazon, but how smaller online businesses can properly compete. While large juggernauts can come out on top with price and shipping, curation is the key to success for smaller companies trying to make their mark in the Internet savvy cache of consumers. Whether it’s through personal development of new products, unique item offerings unavailable elsewhere, the use of subscriptions, or a revamped website design, small companies can make a splash in the ecommerce world with the right strategies.

 

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