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How to differentiate your online store from competitors

What makes ecommerce brands like Amazon, ASOS and Sephora stand-out from their competitors?

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How to differentiate your online store from competitors

What makes ecommerce brands like Amazon, ASOS and Sephora stand-out from their competitors?

Simple, they work hard at differentiating themselves to keep customers engaged, loyal and most importantly returning. The online retail sector is fiercely competitive so emerging ecommerce startups must employ creative tactics to keep customers interested.

You don’t need huge marketing budgets to compete with established players, just a customer-centric strategy that puts customers first. Read on for our failproof hacks on how your online store can replicate the success of these leading ecommerce brands.

Supercharge your loyalty programmes to retain customers

A recurring problem online retailers face is how to encourage repeat purchases and increase retention. We all know the well worn saying by now that it costs brands more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones. If this is true, why do brands insist on expensive marketing campaigns targeting prospective customers?

Buck the trend by implementing a loyalty programme that gives your current customers a reason to return often thus boosting purchase frequency:

  • Reward for more than just purchases: Traditional loyalty programmes used to just reward customers for simply making a number of purchases. The newer programmes go a step further by offering points for a variety of actions including newsletter subscriptions and friend referrals.
  • Create unique customer experiences: One of the best ways to increase lifetime customer value is to reward high spend customers with access to premium loyalty tiers and VIP events. Customers can be given brand ambassador status and should be rewarded accordingly for actively promoting your brand to their friends.
  • Use gamification to engage customers: Gamification is growing in popularity in ecommerce. Retail giant Nike has their online Fuel Program which encourages customers to share their best running times, track their progress and challenge friends to meet fitness goals. Adding this competitive element makes the programme much more fun for customers. What do customers get out of all this? Nike product exclusives, launch event invites and bespoke workout plans.

Takeaway: Look at creative ways your ecommerce brand can reward customers for more than just purchases. Check out loyalty programs from Swell, Smile and LoyaltyLion to give you a competitive edge over other online stores in your industry.

Enhanced personalisation to boost online sales

Effective personalisation is a great way to help your ecommerce brand stand out from competitors who merely see their customers as a number. Don’t make the same mistake as some big brands who neglect their loyal customers as they grow.

No matter how big or small your brand, there are plenty of creative ways to personalise each customer’s online shopping experience:

  • Personalise product recommendation: Take advantage of the power of product upselling by making good use of product recommendations. You can display the ‘products customers recently viewed’ or more helpfully, ‘products other customers also liked’ which is great for driving recommendations conversions. It can also help boost basket size per purchase as customers are inspired to buy products they wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • Shoppable Instagram feed: Social proof means customers are more likely to respond to content from other customers rather than the brand themselves. Integrate your Instagram feed on your homepage so customers can directly shop items that have been worn and styled by real customers. Besides seeing images of people who look like them as opposed to glossy models, customers will also get honest product feedback which will do more to motivate them to purchase than an advert ever could.
  • Customise emails to customers: If you are savvy enough to ask for important information when a customer creates an account, this can be used effectively to create targeted email communication. You can send customers special discounts on their birthday and the anniversary of when they opened an account with your store.

Takeaway: Personalisation is the difference between treating your customer as a person rather than just a number. Simply by addressing them by name in email communication and using their previous browsing habits to suggest product recommendations, you have a distinct advantage.

Exit intent pop-ups drive increased conversions

Struggling to convert your website visitors into regular customers? An exit intent pop-up could be just the tonic you’re looking for. Many ecommerce retailers suffer from high bounce rates when customers fail to make a purchase and leave the website.

Whether you love them or hate them, pop-ups are proven to drive conversions and keep customers on your site:

  • Grow newsletter subscriptions: Are you giving website visitors a strong enough incentive to join your mailing list? Perhaps they aren’t quite ready to make a purchase yet; don’t let them leave your website without encouraging them to sign up to your newsletter. This is a great way to send them relevant content to promote your products and keep your brand top of mind. You can incentivise them with product discounts for signups; pop-up firm Wisepops claim their customers report a 100% increase in their list building efforts when they set up exit popups.
  • Provide incentives like discounts: Discounts and special offers are a quick easy way to convert customers who would have typically left your website. If none of your products initially pique the interest of a new visitor, how about a discount exit pop-up to whet their appetite? You can offer a voucher if they continue shopping and make sure it has a strong call to action they simply can’t ignore.
  • Reduce cart abandonment: Millions are lost annually due to cart abandonment but when tackled, this can be a great way to claw back lost sales. If a customer attempts to leave a website with a full basket, a subtle pop-up telling them their cart will be saved to their email could be the reassuring nudge they need. You could even sweeten the deal by offering free delivery, thus removing another barrier to a potentially lost sale.

Takeaway: Take a look at your Google Analytics and study your bounce rate carefully to identify which pages customers are exiting your website on. You can use this data to help you decide the most appropriate exit pop-up to display to help drive conversions.

Here at Aspiring Panda, our talented team of developers is committed to creating innovative customisation features to help ecommerce brands differentiate themselves from competitors. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your ecommerce project today.


Anoop Panesar

Business Development Manager

Digital marketing and tech specialist Anoop is a well-known figure in the Harrow and North London community. Currently the Operations Director for Aspiring Panda, the company uses cloud and development expertise to solve some of the toughest business challenges – which has recently included consulting with East African nations to provide sustainable farming.

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