How to keep up with Amazon - and make your SME successful

The big marketplace, Amazon, has ‘finally’ arrived in the Netherlands. Marketplaces are taking over the world of e-commerce. So how to survive the ‘invasion of the marketplace’ as an SME?

How to keep up with major marketplaces
As we all know, marketplaces provide products (and/ or services) from multiple third parties. White label companies and dropshipping are the new ‘black’ and these kinds of companies are increasing rapidly. For anything and everything, there is a relevant online marketplace nowadays. 

The reason customers use marketplaces is very simple. They offer ease. There is no need to go out in horrible weather to a physical store, wait in a long line or browse Google extensively. Customers can find everything they’re looking for in one convenient place, where it’s easy to compare and discover products, brands and/or services. And with different providers selling similar products, compatible pricing is inevitable. Also, marketplaces do one thing very well: asking for and showing reviews of the products and/or services that are on sale. Social proof gives customers an extra incentive to go with a brand or product (or not, obviously).

So, is it a necessity to have a presence on these major marketplaces? Yes. You’d be shooting yourself in the foot for not doing so. As we’ve heard often lately, ‘SMEs can’t compete’. Well, you can, as long as you keep optimisation of your brand, presence and website top of mind. Rather than trying to compete with major marketplaces (aka Amazon), try to stay relevant. Your presence on the different marketplaces will broaden your customer base and reach. Customers that wouldn't have thought of you before, will find you now. 

Optimise your online presence
Both within the marketplace, as well as within your own webshop, there is a lot you can do to optimise and stay relevant. 

Data feed
Both for selling within a marketplace and your own webshop: you should take care of a complete data feed. Enriched feeds, with lots of relevant and extended information on a product, are more likely to put you in the spotlight. Within a marketplace, they give the marketplace more reason to find you relevant and put you ‘on top’. Besides the obvious (such as name and price), also think of data that includes information on materials, technical information, categories and a clear description with relevant keywords, your brand name and synonyms. When describing the product, tell all about different features and benefits. Explain what problem the product could solve, or to whom it would be of great relevance. Why should I buy this product?

Within your own webshop, the same goes, with the extra benefit of customers finding your products faster with a complete data feed, when using an optimised site search tool.

Images
This might be a no-brainer, yet, a lot of SMEs use out-dated, not-so-clear images. Invest in these images! Use real pictures, instead of computer-generated ones. Make sure that the main image has a clear background and simply shows the product, one where the product is in use and at least another that gives a close-up and/or various angles. Even better: an image with a zoom option. Customers want to be able to see what they’re buying: obviously, they can’t touch and feel, so highlight the ‘see and feel’ aspect of the shopping process.   

Service
Going the extra mile for your customers not only makes you more trustworthy, but it also increases customer loyalty. Invest in your customer service. Make sure to keep your customer close, after the initial first ‘contact’ through a marketplace sale. Guide them to your own website at the right moment. Send them a personalised email thanking them for their purchase and information on their order. Obviously, add a call-to-action leading them to your webshop. Why not include a voucher for a discount for their next visit. Or free (return) shipping. A personal note when sending products with your branding, gorgeous packaging, something other than an impersonal brown box: make receiving one of your products feel like your customers are receiving a gift. Because who doesn’t like receiving a present?

Within your own website: invest in options that make it easy for customers to ask questions. Include an extended FAQ. Add a chatbot; they save a lot of time (both for you as a retailer and for the ‘waiting’ customer), manpower and money. Insert a search engine that also searches within your content. Your customers aren’t just looking for products, they want information, too. On things like delivery, return policy and sizing. 

Advertising
Adverts within marketplaces generate revenue for the marketplace. But they also give you more relevance, as the marketplace will favour your brand (and rank you higher). Thinking of advertising directly within the marketplace could do magic for your rating and appearance. 

Reviews
Customer reviews within marketplaces don’t just give future customers a better overview of a product or brand. They let you sell more. Selling more isn't just great for conversion and revenue, it makes you more relevant in the eyes of the marketplace. Actively ask customers for reviews. Not just when they buy your products through a marketplace, but also when they do so from you directly. A happy customer is a returning one and generates more customers. A little nudge in the form of a 5% discount on their next order could be an extra incentive for them to do a review. 

Keep your eyes open
As said before, customers like marketplaces because they give a clear overview of different suppliers and brands. They make it possible for customers to compare. Some people will always go for the cheaper option, whereas others will go for the product with the most reviews or highest rating. Keep tabs on your competition. How does your product (or service) compare? If your pricing is in a completely different range, yet your product is similar, you might want to consider making some changes. 

Optimise your own website
When customers find you through a marketplace and are satisfied, they’re more likely to buy from you again. Not simply through the marketplace, but directly from your shop. It is key to have your own webshop running perfectly. 

Site speed
With every waiting second, up to 30% of potential buyers will leave. Site speed is important. Remove data that is making your site slow(er), such as large images, and/or invest in a tool that specialises in site speed. 

Up to date
Make sure your webshop is up to date: don’t show Mother’s day banners on Father’s day or Xmas specials in summer. Items out of stock? Take them off the site temporarily. Show customers an appealing home page, with easy to find and relevant information (a sitemap comes in very handy), a section for reviews & testimonials and clear call-to-action-buttons such as add to cart and pricing. 

Give extra options
Within product pages: give customers extra information. Besides the before-mentioned reviews, give them options for similar or add-on products. This will not only give customers extra options, but it can also increase order value. Upselling without any effort! Also, give customers an open-end when they’re searching for products you don’t sell: when they reach a ‘no-results’ page, don’t simply show them nothing, but give options like a call-to-action to customer service, similar products or a sale page.

Onsite search
As mentioned before: don’t forget the importance of your onsite search engine, and optimise it. Take care of synonyms (jeans, trousers or denim), error-tolerance (not everyone is great at spelling), relevance (not finding yellow socks when looking for green shoes), relevant filters and sorting options. Searchers buy up to five times more than non-searching visitors, stay on-site longer and lookup more pages. Searching visitors can boost your conversion massively! And last but not least: take a look at your search analytics, such as the queries without results. This will give you great insight into what your customers are actually searching for. You might find out a great number of them are looking for a brand or product you don’t sell yet! Sooqr can certainly assist. We thrive to help retailers skyrocket their conversion rate by offering a suite of tools & data-driven actionable insights on the performance of their webshop. 

All in all, optimising your brand presence within marketplaces and your own webshop will get you far. Thus making your brand a successful one, within a marketplace and beyond. 


Curious to see how your current onsite search engine is doing? Take a short quiz at checkmysearch.com and we’ll let you know. 


Image via Pixabay