Five Ways to Distinguish a New eCommerce Store from Competitors (Guest Post)



One of the great things about eCommerce platforms like Magento is that they make it more easier to build a successful eCommerce business than ever before. For an eCommerce retailer that can make a huge difference. But, there’s a fly in the ointment: more eCommerce retailers means more competition. New eCommerce retailers have to compete not only with industry giants like Amazon but with smaller competitors that occupy almost every eCommerce niche worth selling in.

In the modern eCommerce world, it’s not enough to create a store, upload a few products, and buy some Google Adwords exposure. Retailers have to give shoppers a reason to choose their store rather over the competition.

I would like you to have a look at five techniques that are often ignored by novice retailers but could give your store an edge over the competitors.


Streamlined Checkout

Complex checkouts are anathema to eCommerce shoppers. No one wants to spend twenty minutes entering information into a form. In fact, complex checkouts are a leading cause of abandoned carts. The longer it takes for a shopper to checkout, the greater the chance that they will change their mind.

One of the innovations in the recently released Magento 2 is a simplified checkout. I advise retailers to go a step further and integrate a social login extension like Social Login. Social checkouts fulfill the dual role of providing retailers with more information about customers and making checkouts simpler.

Generous Returns Policy

New eCommerce retailers are often inclined to be particularly strict about returns. That’s understandable: returns could be expensive and new retailers need the cash flow.

However, a generous returns policy gives shoppers the confidence to make a purchase that they were otherwise reluctant to make. I’m not suggesting that all stores should offer free returns on all goods, but free returns for purchases over a certain value could make a significant difference to sales.

Site Performance

There’s a temptation to go for the cheapest hosting possible for a new store. That could prove counter-productive. eCommerce applications could be resource hogs, and the cheapest shared hosting doesn’t provide the performance that could lead to an optimal eCommerce experience.

The longer eCommerce pages take to load, the fewer sales will be made. It’s worth spending a little more on hosting to ensure the best performance. New store owners needn’t need to spend on dedicated server hosting, but high-quality shared hosting from a hosting company that understands Magento is a solid investment in the future of your business.

A Mobile-Friendly Site

In 2016, this shouldn’t need to be said. All eCommerce sites are expected to be responsive and designed to work well on touch screens. Around 30% of eCommerce sales are made from mobile devices, and an even higher proportion of shoppers carry out eCommerce related searches on mobile devices. If your store isn’t mobile-friendly, you risk losing a chunk of potential sales.

Customer Support Excellence

This is one of those features that can make the biggest difference, but it’s also one of those features that tend to be ignored by new eCommerce retailers who happen to be busy all the time keeping their stores up and running. Amazon has been so successful because it cultivated a great reputation for customer support. Part of good customer support is a generous returns policy, but customer support can also help reduce returns.

I advise new eCommerce retailers to offer clear lines of contact to someone in the business who is capable of dealing with support requests, whether that’s by email, by instant message, or by phone — it might seem old-fashioned these days, but many eCommerce shoppers value the ability to talk to a real person over the phone.

By focusing on these five areas, new eCommerce merchants could distinguish themselves from the competition and offer shoppers a retail experience that will keep them coming back for more.



Graeme works as a technical writer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting. Follow Nexcess on Twitter at @nexcess and check out their tech/hosting blog,