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Analysis of 50 Retailers Reveals 10 Ways to Beat Big Brands

There is a sense that big brands have all the advantages and cannot be competed against.

A new study proves that assumption to be wrong.

An analysis and competitive audit by NordicClick (PDF) revealed hidden weaknesses in many dominant Internet retailers. The following is a listing of 10 ways to beat the big brands by taking advantage of overlooked sales opportunities.

Identifying weaknesses in competitors then making those your strengths is a goal of competitive analysis. This audit examined 50 of the top Internet retailers in order to understand all the things they did right as well as what they did wrong.

Whether you are an affiliate site or an e-commerce retailer, the information contained in this audit is useful for improving your sites sales performance.


10 Quick Wins for Beating Big Brands

The following is a list of 10 ways the big brands are losing customers. These factors relate to user experience and trust. By doing better in these 10 categories, an eCommerce store can improve their sales by providing a level of service and convenience not available elsewhere.

  1. Page Speed
  2. Payment Options
  3. Inventory Notification Alerts
  4. If Live Chat Available, is it Available During Business Hours?
  5. Can Customers Create a Wish List?
  6. Is Click to Call Available?
  7. Initial Setting for Sort Function
  8. Filter Options that are Easy to Use
  9. Question and Answer Feature
  10. Prominent Shopping & Checkout Buttons

1. Page Download Speed

Web page download speed impacts conversion rates.  An article published by Google February 26, 2018, stated that every second delay in download speed can cause conversions to fall by up to 20%.

Google’s Page Speed Insights assigns three different scores: Poor, Needs Improvement, and Good.

  • Scores less than 65 are rated as Poor
  • Scores between 65-84 are sites that need improvement
  • Sites that score 85 or more points are declared to be good.

Over 50% of Retailers Scored Poorly

The competitive analysis of discovered that more than half of the sites were ranked as Poor. The average download score for desktop visitors is 58.78. The average download score for mobile sites is worse at 51.76.

Your Competitive Advantage is Speed

Potential customers tend to abandon a website out of frustration when it fails to load at a swift enough pace. Focusing on faster download speed represents an opportunity for competing against larger retailers.

2. Prominently Displayed Payment Options

In certain cases it helps a consumer make the purchase decision to know if the transaction will be processed in a manner they feel comfortable with. Will accepting PayPal increase conversions? That kind of assurance, particularly for a smaller retailer that doesn’t have name brand trust and recognition can make all the difference toward increasing conversions.

The competitive analysis looked for whether payment options were displayed in an obvious place prior to adding products to the shopping cart.  Surprisingly, 94% of sites reviewed did not display payment options outside of the shopping cart.

Your Competitive Advantage is Building Trust

This could reflect that the stores are trusted brands and a decision was made that the payment option signal was not necessary. Nevertheless, this does in my opinion present a clear opportunity for a smaller retailer to take a step toward winning the trust of consumers, especially those who are wary of revealing credit card information online.

3. Inventory Notification Alerts

Inventory notification alerts are a way to make a sale when inventory is temporarily down. It’s a no-brainer to use this function to complete as many sales as possible.

Your Competitive Advantage is Locking in Sales

A whopping 94% of the top online retailers do not use inventory notification alerts.  Every site visitor is a potential sale. The difference can sometimes be up to how well your site recognizes what a consumer wants and then giving it to them. An inventory notification alert helps you to lock in that sale instead of encouraging a consumer to make the purchase somewhere else.

4. Is Live Chat Available During Business Hours?

Of the top retailers offering live chat customer service, a full 60% did not use it during high traffic times or during business hours.

Your Competitive Advantage is Communication

A live chat feature can be seen as a tool for increasing conversions. Live chat during high traffic and business hours represents an opportunity to win against big brand retailers.

5. Can Customers Create a Wish List from Shopping Cart?

34% of top retailers do not give consumers the ability to save contents from their shopping cart in a wish list.

6. Is Click to Call Available?

Click to call is a mobile friendly function. 26% of top retailers do not offer mobile site visitors the ability to click to call. Every opportunity should be used to encourage sales. Click to call is a standard part of the mobile experience.

7. Initial Setting for Sort Function

This is a reference to how products are sorted on a product catalog page. The ideal setting is setting for the sort function in a product listings page is Popular or Top Sellers. The reason is because it’s a better user experience and for conversions to show consumers what they are most likely to purchase.

So if most visitors to a tennis shoe page are buying a specific model, it makes sense to sort the tennis shoe page so that it shows the shoe most consumers are likely to purchase.

The initial setting for 58% of the top retailers was something other than the most popular product. It makes sense to take this opportunity to put your best sellers up front. You’ll be ahead of 58% of fifty of the top Internet retailers if you do.

8. Filter Options that are Easy to Use

The ability to filter through thousands of products is important as it allows site visitors to avoid frustration and make a fast purchase.  Filtering is also is a source of conversion feedback. Recording popular selections can help you understand which products are popular and to subsequently feature more prominently.

A full 68% of the sites audited lacked filtering options. This represents an opportunity to provide consumers a better user experience than is found on the sites of top retailers.

9. Question and Answer Feature

A question and answer section on a product page helps consumers gain confidence about a product and make the purchase. It’s also an opportunity for a merchant to gain insights into customer concerns and address those head on in the product description.

Amazon has the Q&A feature on their product pages and they don’t place any feature on their pages without having A/B tested it. So it’s a given that a Q&A feature may be useful in an online store.

Amazingly, 68% of the top online retailers do not offer a Q&A feature on their product pages. That’s 34 out of fifty. This is another one of those features that seems to be a given.

10. Prominent Shopping & Checkout Buttons

Making it easy for shoppers to navigate through a site, especially to check out and make a purchase, is very important. Sales increase the easier it is to shop. It’s similar to the offline world. A shopper will abandon their cart if the line is long.

Shopping should always be easy and convenient. An important rule for optimizing for conversions is to make important buttons stand out and to be consistent. Buttons that are similar colors will cause confusion.

Important links and buttons such as those related to making a purchase should be highly visible and colored in a unique and memorable color. The “Continue Shopping” and “Checkout” buttons fall into this category.

Twenty five retailers, 50%, do not differentiate the two buttons. That’s a UI fail that can affect conversions.

10 Opportunities to Do Better than Your Top Competitors

This article presented 10 opportunities to do better than your top competitors. There are actually even more ways to improve your sales outlined in the study itself.

Additionally, there may be even more opportunities to be learned by studying your own competitors. Find their weaknesses and consider making those your strengths.

The important thing to keep in mind is that not all weakness are real. So do your research first to verify that something will indeed help your online sales.

Images by Shutterstock, modified by Author

SEJ STAFF Roger Montti Owner - at

I have 25 years hands-on experience in SEO and have kept on  top of the evolution of search every step ...

Analysis of 50 Retailers Reveals 10 Ways to Beat Big Brands

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