6 Ways to Stand Out as an Ecommerce Startup

August 31, 2014

10:00 am

In the world of ecommerce, trying to stand out as a little fish in a gigantic online pond is tough. There are some people who think ecommerce startups can compete with the “big dogs” of ecommerce. But when pitted against behemoths like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, it can feel like an intimidating and impossible venture. However, with some hard work and proper planning, it is possible to make a name for yourself in ecommerce. After all, even the large companies had to start somewhere!

Have focus

Let’s face it, your startup can’t yet compete with the big guys in size or scope, so don’t try. They are huge retailers selling practically everything under the sun. So do the opposite. Establish what it is you are trying to do in highly specific terms. This will be your niche market – and believe me, there’s a niche for everything. Focus on building your niche market and doing it well, and the customer base will grow naturally.


Once you establish your niche, it is vital to make yourself stand out – to be known for something specific. Do what you do, do it differently, and do it well. Provide high-quality products that meet a specific need, and put your own unique twist on it. Little personal touches go a long way: a handwritten note of thanks with each purchase or beautiful wrapping rather than boring packing material. Make your business stand out in the minds of your customers, and they’ll come back for more (and tell their friends).

Customer service

One advantage of being a small company is the ability to provide personalized customer service quickly. Win ‘em with kindness and outstanding customer support. This is something largely lacking in ecommerce today, as companies are too big and too busy to have the time to care. Use this to your advantage. Improve on the inefficiencies or shortcomings of the bigger companies. Make a name for yourself through reliable, quality customer service by responding to phone calls and emails immediately, and using a personalized approach to resolving customers’ needs.


Speaking of efficiency, part of customer satisfaction is timely delivery of the product. It doesn’t matter how stellar your quality is if no one receives their package or has to wait an exorbitant amount of time for its arrival. Invest in a print and apply labeling system to save time and increase shipping accuracy. These systems range from simple and inexpensive to highly intelligent machines that could probably run the company for you! These labels provide the benefit of high-contrast shipping barcodes that can be uploaded automatically into the system from your computer. This guarantees that your products can reach your customers quickly and accurately, without the hassle and added expense of bar code misreads.

Harness the power of social media

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing tool available, and best of all, it’s free. Promote your company by establishing social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, through which you can not only sell your brand to the masses, but also express the fun and creative side of your company. Customers love small companies with big personalities! You can also utilize company blogs to update customers on upcoming sales and events, new products and promotions, and anything fun and interesting you have to share. Consider sharing coupon codes via social media and your website, giving prospective customers a reason to try your product and become a fan. Always keep in mind the ecommerce buzzword: networking.

Persistence and patience

As a startup, it is likely that business will start slow. Stick with it. Utilize your niche, keep doing what works for you, and don’t be afraid to find new versions of your old ideas. Don’t get stuck in tunnel vision, but don’t get too big for your britches. Slow and steady! Make subtle (or not-so-subtle) tweaks to your business, your products, and your approach, and allow your growth to guide you. Keep it fresh yet consistent, and let your customers inspire you.

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Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. He currently resides in the Southern California area and spends his time helping consumers and business owners alike try to be successful. When he’s not reading or writing, he’s most likely with his beautiful wife and three children.


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