Okay, so the consumer has instant access to your competitor’s prices, what can you do if you don’t have a cost advantage?
Using the Internet, the consumer has an ability to compare almost instantaneously what you and your competitors offer. While this may seem like a problem, this instant access to information can also be used to your advantage. The consumer also compares product features and makes judgments on quality and potential service delivery among others things.
Because you can see the same information that the consumer sees, you have the power to differentiate your product or service so that it has a unique appeal over your competitors. Now, you may be thinking these are all good ideas but won’t the competition in turn respond by replicating my offering? This is where we get cunning. No they won’t, because you are going to choose something that your competitor cannot replicate.
So let’s get creative for a minute. Imagine that customers are hungry for your product they just don’t realize it yet. You have to prove to them that your product should be the one object of their desire.
One way to do this when competing on an International stage is to tell the New Zealand story. I remember one New Zealand entrepreneur, a Maori bone carving exporter, who modified his product through unique flax packaging. In New Zealand we really are blessed with a story that can be used to develop a unique international advantage when selling online. In presenting his products online he also told a Maori legend about each carving. Delving into the buying process a bit further he discovered that the overseas buyers were ordering his products as gifts. When you buy a gift don’t you want it ready to give? So he made sure that his products were shipped ready to be given as gifts.
A Delivery Advantage
Can you offer an advantage through delivery? You could possibly process orders faster than your competitors and promote a faster delivery time. Alternatively, you could arrange for your suppliers to provide extra care in delivery.
Re-discovering your Unique Selling Proposition
You entered the market with a unique offering and the larger players left you alone, now the big boys are encroaching on your niche, what do you do about it? Before things get out of hand what do you have over the big guns, apart from good looks?
Well you’re more flexible, you do not and probably cannot produce your product in bulk but you do have the ability to modify your production process and produce a more customized offering. Are there ways that you could customize your product for individual consumers? Many large manufacturers cannot make to order; they produce in bulk and gain a price advantage as a result. This is one way that you can ensure your worth to the market and delight customers who are looking for something that is extra special.
In conclusion, don’t panic, the Internet is a large market to compete in but with small modifications to your offers, you can create a compelling reason for consumers to buy your products over competitors.