Putting a Little Flash into E-Commerce

Retailers have been struggling since the tech bubble to set themselves apart. Back in the good old 1990s, you could simply have a website and you were on the cutting edge. Remember the fight for AOL Keywords? If you managed to grab a good one, you were pretty much set for life. Well, at least life until the bubble burst.

Now, everyone has a website. ‘Add a website’ doesn’t even appear in most advice columns for business owners anymore. Visit the farmer’s market or your local fair, and you’re bound to see local artisans who will hand you a business card with their site’s name on it. If you’re selling something (or even if you’re not), you have a website.

All plastic shopping carts.

So how do you stand apart as an e-commerce site in 2011?

3 Ways to Stand Out as an E-commerce Site

Give a little deal, get a lot

Deals websites are incredibly popular right now. They’re a great way to bring attention to your brand and to bring in new customers. Even if you don’t reach conversion with the deal, you’ve essentially sent an advertisement out to each of their subscribers.

Many people make it part of their routine to visit sites like Tanga, so your product is getting the spotlight in front of thousands of visitors. You may initially lose a little money, but the value of returning customers often outweighs it.

Make online shopping pay

The number one thing that stops a customer from buying online is often the shipping costs. Why buy from an online retailer when you can just pick a product up from the store on your next shopping trip? In this economy, more people are choosing the inconvenience of in-store shopping over the added cost attached to most e-commerce sites.

However, that’s an easy hurdle to jump. Have frequent free-shipping sales, and your (potential) customers are sure to subscribe to your e-mail updates and coupons. If you need to make every penny count, ship for free and build the cost in slightly over each product. Customers may recognize that your items aren’t quite as cheap as everything else they’re seeing out there, but they’ll also appreciate being able to see the exact cost of their purchase in their cart instead of finding it out as a surprise late in the process.

Inspire loyalty

Your logo isn’t nearly as important as what customers feel when they look at it. If they feel like they belong to a group because of it, you’ve created an image of brand loyalty that isn’t likely to go away. Take novelty e-commerce site ThinkGeek as a great example. They have a blog where they discuss topics their main customer base (geeks) would enjoy, such as Star Wars, math references and everything computers. They tweet photos with similar subjects, and freely engage with their customers on Facebook. Simply, they’re where their customers want to be and where they’re already at. Don’t reach for a subject to blog about unless it comes naturally and adds to your brand.

Another thing that ThinkGeek does right is that they’ve added a customer loyalty program. If the general feeling of inclusiveness doesn’t catch customers, hopefully the rewards will. You can see loyalty programs everywhere—even Bath and Body Works gives customers better coupons the more they shop, even though it’s not explicitly advertised that way. The best way to set up a program is to have consumers create accounts and assign each purchase a point value, whether or not you choose to share this information with the consumer. This also puts you in a great position to reward frequent shoppers and to keep their interest in your brand.

Photo by Polycart

Other Popular Posts by Jesse Langley

1. Maximize Your Blog Readership with Better Email Marketing
2. How Giving Back Pays
3. Integrating Effective Email Marketing-into Social Media Success
4. Selecting Your Social Media Wardrobe

About Jesse Langley

Jesse Langley, a resident of Indianapolis, is a freelance writer, a former teacher, avid cook, and a marketing enthusiast. I advise anyone interested in marketing to look into an email marketing campaign to figure out the best path for you.


  1. Yeah. ThinkGeek does it right. Keep your customers on your site, not just with your products, but with entertainment all around the lifestyle you represent. And if the customers like what they see, they’ll identify with your site and shop and probably prefer to buy at your site.

  2. Coupons, discounts, rebates, free shipping, promos – these are the thing that will make customers buy online instead of going a local retailer. I have worked at a sales department of an online shopping center and customers are always demanding something that we can offer them that their local stores can’t. And they call to purchase stuff (even if they do not have to just at that moment) because they got an email for coupons.

    • Recently i got coupon of 25% discount and i happily used that but after that i realize about this market strategy which they use to get more business and from these kinds of discount, coupon people get curious to use that.

  3. Hi Jesse,
    Very interesting article. It always amazes me that such what small little things can ‘buy’ a customers loyalty. The bonus point giveaway you describe is a great idea. Great information, thanks.

  4. I agree; to keep the customer or prospects on the page for the longer duration is very important.

    The search engine also put you in a better category. It increases sales as there is a reply to the customer who comes with a hope “what is in it for me”

    thanks for sharing


  5. edmond0925 says:

    Great post! Always value your customers! Thanks for this post!

  6. Awesome! This tips are really great! We should be very thankful to our customers, and by giving it back to them they should always feel that they welcome and important to us.

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