How do you carve out your slice of the market in a super competitive industry?
But it’s even harder to build an online retail site that competes with existing retailers like Amazon or Target that have an established a customer base and dominate the market. It’s become a Catch-22 for many retailers: if you don’t have existing customers, brands won’t agree to sell their products through you; but if you don’t have products to sell, you can’t build a customer base.
However, if you’re a marketplace or online retailer trying to sell a curated selection of other people’s products, it is possible to succeed — despite the odds. The answer lies in building a strong brand that stands out in the market and helps customers remember you. As a retailer, you need to stand for something and have a strong mission statement.
What does that look like? The online retailers profiled below have all used different techniques to build a strong brand that resonates with customers and keeps them coming back again and again. If you’re looking to build your own online marketplace, take advice from these top online retailers and learn how you can stand out in a competitive market.
ClassicCars.com: Building a community
Online classic car marketplace ClassicCars.com established itself as a trusted destination to buy — you guessed it — classic cars. With the largest online network of classic car dealers, the company not only has a strong inventory, but also acts as the connection point between classic car enthusiasts –– whether they are buying or selling. The company doesn’t just focus on selling cars, it also provides expert coverage of automotive news through its ClassicCars.com Journal site and organizes regular events to bring classic car lovers together offline. These events build a community around specific classic car niches, connecting people with the brand and each other in-person to build deeper connections.
Need Supply: Market-leading editorial
Customers trust fashion marketplace Need Supply to curate the latest styles for them because their editorials read just like the kind of articles you’d get in high fashion magazines like Vogue. The company aims to be the go-to destination not just for buying clothes, but also for reading up on the latest trends with commentary on the fashion industry as a whole.
As part of this strategy, Need Supply uses dynamic email content to ensure they show the right editorials and products to the right customers at the right time. They recognize that some customers may only want to read their editorials, while others will be interested in buying specific products. The goal is that no two people should receive the same email. To achieve this, the company uses customer data to keep buyers informed of the latest trends they personally care about.
Glambot: Focus on customer retention
The concept of Glambot is a bit like swapping makeup products you bought and didn’t use with friends — but on a wider scale. Glambot unites people who have lightly used makeup to sell with people who want to buy rare and limited edition makeup and tools. The marketplace encourages customer retention by rewarding people who want to sell their makeup with 30% more in store credit than they would get in cash. Because of Glambot’s positioning as a discount marketplace that sells new and used products, the company focuses on competing on price and by offering more unusual products. Glambot also taps into the influencer marketing trend, specifically working with beauty influencers on Instagram who show off the looks they’ve created with the products the company sells.
Moda Operandi: embracing omnichannel and using all data available
Luxury fashion marketplace Moda Operandi earns its customers’ trust (and dollars) by being both high-tech and human. They use both online and offline channels to improve its marketing message. Customers can pre-order items straight from the runway from the Moda Operandi website as part of its trunk show service, which only runs for two weeks. Buyers can also shop entire collections in a wider variety of sizes.
As the items have to be specially made, customers pay half up front, and half when the product arrives. Moda Operandi also provides personal stylist services in store as part of its My Stylist program, which complements its ecommerce offering by giving members access to private trunk shows online or special trunk shows, such as “Vote 2018”.
Customers can also browse stylists and their credentials online before making an appointment in store. Stylists even have their own CRM to enable them to personalize the service they provide clients based on previous interactions. The company also brings together all of the data it collects on customers both online and in-store to personalize its marketing communications by being able to unify customers’ interactions under one ID.
Just like the retailers featured above, you need to focus on showing customers the benefits of buying with you directly. How do you do that? Simply provide an outstanding customer experience that offers long-term value and helps you build up a loyal fanbase. If you focus on offering something unique and useful to customers, you will be able to create a memorable experience so your online retail store can compete with anyone — even Amazon.