Ecommerce Strategies: “Borrowing” from Your Competitors
A common credo among poets and artists is “good artists copy, but great artists steal.” This isn’t an excuse for plagiarism, of course. Rather it’s an encouragement that artists need not box themselves into thinking originality sells. Instead, those who succeed do so by unapologetically adopting and adapting the works of others to create something novel and fresh.
In truth, the same thing can be applied to ecommerce. The whole industry overcame brick-and-mortar retail (formerly known as “retail”) by offering the same goods and services people could find in stores and gave it a twist – the ability to shop from your couch.
Yes, that little bit of freshness and novelty changed the act of shopping as we knew it. The same strategies can be used to forward your ecommerce website beyond your nearest competitors.
Below we will discuss ecommerce strategies around “borrowing” from your competitors.
Replicating Hot Items
You probably already know your most ardent competitors. You might also realize your fiercest competition doesn’t necessarily come from the biggest brand, but often from small businesses with a dedicated following. As an ecommerce vendor, it’s shrewd to examine these competitors for what works and what doesn’t, so you can copy or modify their strategies.
For instance, some e-stores grow their customer base by expanding their product offerings. While they may specialize in cookware and kitchen supplies, they also have an audience for their nascent cookbook and ebook product lines. If you also sell kitchenware but don’t sell physical or digital cookbooks, it might be time to jump on that bandwagon; especially if it’s already working for someone else.
Copying Usability Features
One of the reasons customers might prefer one store to another is ease of use. Many consumers find e-stores through search engines like DuckDuckGo, Bing, or Google. They open four or five browser tabs to different online cosmetics shops to peruse several e-stores at once and then pare down their options to make a purchase.
What do you think is the easiest way to prune potential losers?
Truth be told, ecommerce customers will likely cut the websites that are slow to load, difficult to navigate, or are just plain ugly. It doesn’t matter whether you are selling quality makeup or inexpensive cufflinks. Customers expect speed, usability, and aesthetics.
Admittedly, some ecommerce websites are better equipped for these challenges than others. That’s okay. The whole strategy here is to see what works for your competitors and borrowing it. Consider A/B testing new features and additions to truly determine what is successful and what needs further work.
Matching Sales, Clearance Offers & Deals
Another suggestion is to match your competitors’ sales. Have you observed that BigTimeBaseballShoppe.com runs its highly anticipated clearance sale around spring training? Copy that strategy with sales and special offers of your own around the same time of year? Clearly, BigTimeBaseballShoppe.com found a strategy that works. Determine how you can adjust that strategy to match your goals. Rather than a sale, it might be something like introducing a new product line around Spring training to siphon customers away from this competitor.
Learning from Marketing & Social Media
Social media engagement should be a two-way conversation between brands and consumers. If you are just pushing marketing onto your audience, they are likely to glaze over or unfollow. Neither of those responses are ideal. How do your competitors behave on social media? If they are adept at keeping shoppers engaged with their online profiles, they might be a resource for you.
Look at their posts week over week. Do they have a consistent voice? Are they snarky and cute? Or are they professional and informative?
Even if you don’t adopt their exact voice (you shouldn’t), your e-store should at least determine a brand voice of its own. Scoping out your competitors can help you figure out how.
These are just a few ecommerce strategies you can employ. With enough time, dedication, and innovation, your competitors will eventually start borrowing ideas from you. Don’t be offended. Mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery.