Right now consumers have more choice than ever. Between traditional brick and mortar, massive online markets like Amazon and Etsy, and big direct to consumer brands there's so much competition to attract the consumer dollar.
This might seem extremely intimidating to someone trying to start a small online store. But small businesses do have one big advantage. Consumers are becoming more savvy and more concerned about the ethics of the goods and services they buy. The big companies may have the upper hand on things like convenience, supply chain speed, and cost, but small business can compete on quality and people's desire to support artisans, crafts people, and local small business.
Services like Shopify have made the barriers to entry into online retail extremely low. An entrepreneur can set up an online store for a minimal monthly cost and reach the entire world of online consumers.
The downside to this is that anyone can set up an online store, hook up their store to a drop shipping company like Alibaba and sell unvetted, lower quality products. Without in store retail it's hard for the consumer to really know what they're getting sometimes.
So how do you differentiate yourself and give your customer confidence in your goods and ultimately you.
Share your journey
What was it like starting your business? People get invested in watching a company grow. Everyone loves an underdog and they appreciate seeing brands learn and grow overtime. Seeing the journey will allows customers to feel invested in your process and product
Share your production process
How do your products get made? What ingredients go into your product that make it the best? Why did you choose one ingredient over another? The more the customer knows about your process, the more engaged they'll be with your brand and the more trust they'll have in their purchase.
A big DTC brand Everlane has a policy of transparent pricing and they show the price breakdown on each product. This help the consumer understand where their money is going and gives them confidence that the process is ethical.
Share your reason
Why did you start this business in the first place? Were you passionate about coffee? Are you the artist behind the designs? What inspires you will inspire the customer.
Share your values
Customers increasingly care about the ethics of companies and want to spend their money with brands that align with their values. Let them know what your values are and how your brand aligns with those values.
To sum up, people are story driven and a compelling and authentic brand storey can really persuade a customer to choose you. Luckily, small brands can really compete in this area with a well thought out online presence.