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How to compete with the big boys – 4 handy tips


Let’s be honest, a marketing budget like that of Amazon – which includes TV commercials – is not within everyone’s reach. So how can you compete with the big boys? Discover four handy tips to earn yourself a good spot on the market as a smaller online store.

Tip 1: One-of-a-kind

How can you, as a small online store, exploit your opportunities to the full? Well, the first tip is to stand out! Consumers are not interested in mass-produced items that can be bought by the dozen via large online stores. Many visitors are actually interested in finding hidden gems. A few examples: a hand-made leather bag, special jewelry or industrial furnishings. Aim to conquer a niche market* and clearly showcase your specialty. Visitors will more easily remember your name and recognize your store. Last but not least, when visitors are looking to buy, word of mouth will ensure you’re top of mind*. 

*Niche market: Choosing to specialize in a specific field within a larger market

*Top of mind: When your product is the first to come to mind when speaking of a specific topic.

Below you can see the homepage of Martijntje Cornelia, a great example of niche marketing.

Martijntje Cornelia sells jewelry with a key USP – it’s made of cotton candy

Tip 2: Tell your story

You’re one of a kind, so unlike most large businesses, you have a personal story – a story your visitors would love to hear! Of course when you have an online shop, it’s impossible for you to be physically present, but by sharing your personal story, you give your visitors a better insight into who you are and what you do. The result? More loyal customers who won’t hesitate to place an order. After all, they feel they know you and they want to discover your products too.

Add an ‘About us’ section to your store and inspire your audience with your story. A few ideas below:

  • Talk about yourself, preferably with photos! That inspires trust, because your visitors can see who they are dealing with.
  • Explain why you launched your online store. Often stores are born out of passion for a certain product. Was this always a dream of yours? Or rather a spontaneous idea?
  • Talk about your products. Do you make them yourself? Do you scour the whole country in search of products or do you import them from abroad?

Social media 
Use social media channels to share your story and to seek contact with your target audience. This does require a different approach, though. First of all, you should generally share short messages. Secondly, channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are ideal for product images (particularly of products in action). Last but not least, the stories shared via social media are generally in the moment. That allows you to share the latest news, show the newest collections and give your followers a glimpse behind the scenes.

Keen to find out more about how to use social media to promote your online store? Let us know in the comments section! :)

This beautiful Instagram feed by @ownedby_lindabaart promotes the products sold in Linda’s online store:

Tip 3: Small, but smart

Large companies often sell a myriad of virtually identical products. If you opt to focus on a niche market, you shouldn’t worry too much about competing with the big boys. Better even: you can use the big boys to reach your target audience! How? For example by tapping into Etsy and as additional sales channels to sell (a few of) your products. There you go: an additional link to encourage potential customers to browse your online store.

Important remark! Carefully consider which products to sell through big companies like When you offer products via one of these channels, these companies get an insight into your sales data. They see your top-sold products, purchase them themselves and sell them at a lower rate. In the short term, it can be smart to sell your products via a larger party, but in the long run, there’s a chance you won’t be able to compete anymore. So make smart choices. Carefully select the products you want to sell via larger channels, for example, end-of-range products or unique items that the large sales channels can only purchase via your online store.

Tip 4: Make it personal

When customers receive your parcel, that’s one of the few physical contacts they have with your brand, so give it a special touch! No need for anything major, just go the extra mile to make your customers feel special and to encourage them to come back. As a small online store, it’s easier to forge a ‘personal’ relationship with your customers, so be smart and seize this opportunity!

Also have a look at our blog post ‘Boost your sales with great packaging’. 

How to give your parcels that special touch:

  • A (hand-written) note
  • A give-away that doubles as a teaser for a new purchase. If you sell tea for example, add a different tea bag that you think your customers might like.
  • Nice product packaging. The order needs to be wrapped in a box for shipping anyway, so why not make it beautiful?

In a nutshell, don’t be intimidated by the big boys! If you sell a unique product and/or range, you can stand out. Moreover, as a small company, you can share a personal, authentic story, which is something that really boosts customer loyalty. Last but not least, don’t steer clear of the big boys, but check how they can boost your store’s visibility among your target group.

Any more golden tips to put your online store on the map? Let us know!