How to Compete with Big eCommerce Retailers and Win

In the brick-and-mortar world of commerce, many small retailers can’t cope with the competition from big retailers and after a few years, cease to exist. Unfortunately, the same is often true for the online world of eCommerce.

Large eCommerce retailers are able to offer the same or similar products for much less than a smaller retailer. So what does this mean? Is there any point in opening a small online retailer if you need to constantly compete with retail giants? 100% yes! 

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One of the most important tools the big retailers use in order to keep track of the traffic and maximize the ROI, is using a good, reliable, one-stop shop, marketing automation software. Any retailer, big or small has to understand that no matter how many different tactics they use if they don’t have a good system that works for them to generate leads, subscribers, and customers, the small tactics just won’t do.

So with the right automation platform and with the right tactics in place, you can still compete with big eCommerce retailers and be very profitable.

For many people, their first approach is to simply reduce the price of their products to try and match that of the large online retailers.

Here are a few other tactics that will help you compete with big retailers online:

Compete in Price

Did you know that an average online shopper compares prices before finalizing his purchase by visiting at least 3 online stores and actively using price comparison engine to find the best deal?

Competing in price and being competitive are the useful ways to steal from the big players in the market. As Amazon changes and updates its prices in every 10 minutes, you should be also armed with competitive pricing solutions in order to be reactionary towards the price changes and aware of the market status. You can do that by using a dynamic pricing software. Dynamic price optimization through the software allows you to improve conversion rates and find optimal prices that balance out your margins and your position in the market.

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Use Customer Service to Set Yourself Apart

The thing about being a smaller eCommerce store, unlike Amazon, for example, is that you have a unique chance to treat all your customers as people rather than order numbers.

Think about how many orders Amazon must get a day, then compare that to how many people must approach them with issues with their products.

They have a stellar customer support team, what they can’t do is one-to-one service from real humans to real humans, but you can. The truth is, people don’t expect Amazon to mess up. They know it’s a multibillion-dollar company, and so in the mind of the customers, they should have their service sorted out. Did you know, after one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with that company again?

For example, when Real Canadian Superstore delivered a grocery order to one of their customers with some of the items were out of stock.

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Instead of sending an email to let the customer know the items wouldn’t be delivered, Real Canadian Superstore went above and beyond and call them directly from the store and see if they wanted any substitutes.

Your customers understand that things go wrong and, especially if you’re a smaller store, they’re much more appreciative of you taking the effort to really help them with their problems.

As a result of this, the customer in question took to social media to talk about the amazing service they’ve received, encouraging others to also visit the site as well.

How many times have you seen someone post an Instagram photo about the service they received from Amazon?

You have a unique opportunity to connect with customers can be built with the help of empathy. Don’t waste it.

Support Local and Regional Charities and Businesses

Though you might not be able to compete with your biggest retailers on price, you can compete with how you use your business for the greater good. For many people, although they like the lower prices with larger retailers, they dislike how little they seem to care about the people around them.

That is where you can step up.

Consumers are actually more likely to pay more for a product if by doing so they believe they’re helping other people around them.  It’s a very effective pricing strategy, however, it only works if the cause you’re supporting is in line with your business.

If you run a real leather boot company, it doesn’t make much sense to donate part of your profits to a vegan charity.

However, there are things you can do and plenty of examples of eCommerce stores who already implement this effectively.
Bombas, the sock company, gives back to their community by providing homeless people with a pair of socks every time a customer buys some.

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These socks cost $12 for one pair. It’s very likely, however, that you would be able to buy similar socks or even multiple pairs for this price.

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Despite the price, Bombas still makes money, largely due to the fact they are giving back to those less fortunate. By now they’ve almost given away 10 million pairs of socks.

Use Social Media to Stand Out

As a small eCommerce business owner, you’ve probably heard about the benefits of social media and you may have even implemented some of the tactics yourself.

But if you really want to compete with the big retailers, an active social media presence can give you a huge advantage.

The best thing about social media is it gives you the opportunity to create specific campaigns for different segments of your audience. As Amazon sells a wide range of products in a wide range of categories, they will struggle to have the same effect you could.

One great example of this is Cluse. Cluse is an online store selling watches and jewelry.

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They’ve amassed over 924,000 followers on Instagram and testament to that is the great images they use throughout their page.

Their Instagram is an exciting look into the type of brand they’re trying to create. Rather than simply showing product photos, they attempt to use lifestyle photos to show what type of life you could have with if you were to buy one of their products.

They also take it one step further to include user-generated content to add a personal touch.

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User-generated content in this instance refers to content they source from their customers. They feature the content on their own Instagram page.

This is, again, something a big retailer would struggle to do on a mass scale.

Win with Product Photography

One of the core issues with the world of eCommerce is the inability to touch or feel the thing you’re about to buy.

That’s why it’s important to have a good sense of product photography. Stock photos don’t cut it anymore. Having good product photos gives your potential customers the chance to really see what their product will look like in person.

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Amazon sells this backpack on their site. They provide plenty of product descriptions like the size of the bag, the materials it’s made of etc.

However, what they do not do, is show a photo of what this backpack might actually look like on someone.
With the nature of a backpack, it’s often useful to try it on to see how it fits. If we compare this backpack to Herschel we see a different story.

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Not only do they show a range of photos of the backpack, from different angles as well as a close-up, they also provide potential customers with a chance to see how the backpack will look on a real person.

Niche down to Win

Think about stores like Target. What can you buy from there? It’s not a trick question, the answer is most things.

In fact, Target has 28 different categories and within that a wide range of subcategories.

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If you’re a small eCommerce retailer, you don’t have quite as many categories. This isn’t a bad thing, though.  If you only sell one type of product whether that be hats, bikes, headphones, it means you’ve niched down.  The benefit of niching is that you are able to not only set yourself out as an expert within your own niche but gain extra traffic from the ability to create niche specific content.  Have you ever read a blog post on Amazon about how to groom your beard? Probably not.

Because Amazon doesn’t create content like that. So when you’re looking for an effective beard groomer you simply go to Amazon, type “beard grooming” and see what pops up.

Yes, you can judge it by reviews or product descriptions, but you don’t get a feel for whether or not the company in question actually gets beard grooming.

Compare that then to BeardBrand who is an online store dedicated to beard care. If you search on Google for “how to groom beard” you don’t find an Amazon listing, you find this article from BeardBrand.

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This article isn’t trying to sell anything, but it goes into extreme detail about how to keep your beard maintained and “awesome-looking”.

They also happen to have an online store too. So if you’d stumbled across this article, read it, find value from it, you’re likely to have a look at their products to see what they have to offer.

That’s the beauty of niching down. You can offer immense value to potential customers in areas where big retailers like Target and Amazon cannot.


In large, don’t be afraid of being a small eCommerce store. Granted, you might not take home revenues like Amazon, but you can compete in ways they cannot.

If you put the customers at the forefront of your mind and ensure that everything you do is customer-centric, you’re likely to provide them with positive experiences and in doing so, they’ll provide you with custom.

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The key is finding your competitive edge and doubling down on that. So whether you want to give back to a charity related to your business, dominate social media or even provide world-class customer support, find a way to stand out, and do it well.

What are you waiting for, start competing!

Author: Burc Tanir is the CEO at, the competitor price tracking software for e-commerce companies of all sizes from all around the world.