Differentiating Ecommerce: Easy to Understand, Difficult to Implement

Differentiating Ecommerce
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Differentiating is pivotal to the very existence of an e-commerce business. It is something that we will need to revisit over and over again. Below, we focus on the factors that prevent your e-commerce business from standing out.

The Products You Are Selling Are the Same As Those Your Competitors Are Selling

Let's draw an analogy between the Internet and a mall. When you enter a mall, the primary factor you use to decide which retailer to visit is the category of product you would like to buy.

Once you know that you want to buy furniture, or electronics, or t-shirts, or whatever, you will visit your favorite store for that product. The online world works differently. For instance, Amazon.com will sell you furniture, electronics, and t-shirts.

But you are not Amazon.com. So, you will have to stand for something. If you are selling the same products as everyone else, then success will be contingent on other factors such as your pricing, marketing, and the like. Why not get to the core of differentiation, and sell differentiated goods. There are many approaches to this from personalizing your products to each user, to selling unique products. You decide your approach, but if you can sell differentiated goods you have made great progress towards being a differentiated e-commerce business.

The Path of Purchase on Your E-commerce Website Feels the Same As It Does on Any Other Online Store

Have you noticed that your behavior on most e-commerce websites is identical?

This is because the purchase process is identical. Not just the process, in most cases the navigation, menus, image placement, and functionality is also identical. Of course, there is a rationale for this standardization. A standardized purchase process is more intuitive to users. But that is not to say that you cannot improve upon the existing.

Not Just the Path of Purchase, but the Entire User Experience Seems Generic

Imagine if Apple Computers didn't constantly chip away at improving the usability of its products. There would be iPhone, the iPod would be similar to the once-famous Walkman. Apply this reasoning to your e-commerce business. Begin by identifying the most common customer pain points. But do not stop there. When people used the Sony Walkman, they found it highly user-friendly. But Apple took user-friendliness to such advanced levels that the Walkman was condemned to obsolescence.

How can you create an iPod-like e-commerce website? We do not know the answer to that. But we do see new functionality and user experience added to existing e-commerce websites all the time. You know your product range and customers. If you can really put yourself in the shoes of the customer, you will find ways to improve their experience.

The Solution Is Continuous Testing and Continuous Innovation, Leading to Continuous Improvement

At the end of the day, there is no silver bullet. Serendipitous success is known to happen, but are you willing to just sit around? Competition in the e-commerce world has reached such proportions that you have no alternative but to test, test, and test.

But what is it that you would be testing? If you are comparing across two inferior alternatives, A/B testing will just help you choose the less inferior one. Instead, focus on innovation and your tests will help choose between two great alternatives. And when that happens, do not rest on past laurels. Instead, rinse and repeat. Of course, do not limit yourself to the same kind of thinking each time you repeat.