Large retailers, such as Amazon.com sell all sorts of products. How can small niche merchants compete? E-commerce expert Rob Snell explains how small merchants can leverage their expertise to establish authority and build trust. He outlines three important steps a business can take to achieve better sales.
First, use photos and text to establish yourself as an expert. For examples, Snell uses his family business, GunDogSupply.com in Starkville, MS. Snell's brother Steve is shown to be an expert through photos with inscriptions of him hunting with his 16 dogs.
Second, tell people what to buy using buyers guides that help the buyer understand exactly what product they need and that offer specific product advice based on the customer's need. People love reviews, says Snell, and they use them on their family site, but it's hard to tell who is really an expert.
In buying guides, people know your bias, but people appreciate guidance from an expert, even an expert who is trying to sell them something.
Third, tell customers why they should buy the product from you (even if your price might be higher than another store). Demonstrate that you're a real business, that you have thousands of satisfied customers. Talk to people on your site the same way you'd talk to customers in a brick-and-mortar store.
Provide a satisfaction guarantee. In Snell's experience much less than 0.1% of customers use such a guarantee to take advantage of the merchant. Risk reversal is a big deal with customers! A great example is Zappos.com that picks up the cost of returning a product if you don't like it.
Rob Snell is the author of Starting a Yahoo! Business for Dummies (2006), is involved in the family business, GunDogSupply.com, and does e-commerce consulting. This video was recorded at Search Engine Strategies, Chicago, IL in October 2010.