The Curse of Ecommerce Resellers: Lack of Differentiation

ecommerce-curseDuring a recent copywriting consulting call with a new client, we discussed her primary concern: having good traffic, but no sales. I’ve seen this a thousand times before. Usually, what I find is a site filled with content that is chock-full of keyphrases and sounds stupidly repetitive. The solution is easy: Write natural-sounding, persuasive SEO copy that entices customers to buy. But this client’s site didn’t fit the stereotype.

The home-page copy needed some work, but it wasn’t awful. The category and sub-category pages had no copy at all that needed to be fixed. The product descriptions were canned (straight from the manufacturer). While that’s definitely not the best way to go for several reasons, it’s not a death sentence. But still, for a site – even a brand-new one – to have several hundred unique visitors a week and not one sale was frustrating.

We looked at some stats. Low bounce rate, high number of pages viewed per visit, acceptable length of time spent on the site. The rankings left something to be desired, but they’d come along soon enough with a few tweaks and some linking.

As we clicked our way through the site’s pages, it became clear. This site suffered from a common curse among e-commerce resellers: lack of differentiation.

Why Should I Buy From You?

Generally speaking, most grocery stores carry nearly the same things. So how did you decide to shop at the one you frequent most? Chances are it was because of the store’s location. Online, we don’t have that advantage.

When e-commerce resellers carry the same exact items as hundreds or thousands of other sites, comparison shoppers have a difficult time deciding whom to buy from. Most often, it falls to price. Since my client wasn’t branding her site to be the cheapest, she had lost the location and the price advantage.

After searching through dozens of websites offering the same products, the surfer had no way to answer their most burning question: Why should I buy from you?

Identifying Differentiation Points

As our tour continued, I asked questions – lots of questions – in an effort to help my client find ways she was different and/or better than her competition.

> > Do you offer free shipping or reduced shipping (with or without a minimum order)?

She did, but that wasn’t stated visibly on her site. There’s one differentiating item. Online shoppers love free shipping.

> > Do you hold any promotions?

She did, but that also wasn’t clearly stated. She made a note to draw attention to her promotion on the home page.

> > Do you offer quantity discounts?

She did, but the link to the copy that explained the discounts was rather hidden. We discussed adding a few words of copy right by the price to let visitors know discounts were available.

> > Can you tell me about the wish list feature? What happens after someone adds products to their wish list?

She didn’t know, so we went through the process together and created a plan for strategically placed copy that would entice visitors to add items to their wish lists. We then discussed the particulars of creating copy for an autoresponder series that would follow up with people who had created a wish list, but never ordered.

When our hour was up, we had identified several actionable steps for her to work on to differentiate her site from her competitors. Of course, they’ll all need to be tested to see which works best to achieve her goals. But for now she’s busy tweaking and tracking instead of scratching her head.

Need some proven strategies for boosting the search rankings & sales of your ecommerce site? You’ll find them in Karon’s new course “Ecommerce Copywriting”.

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About Karon Thackston

For over 25 years, web & SEO copywriter Karon Thackston has created optimized copy and content that has increased conversions & search rankings. Find out more about Karon on Google+.

Comments

  1. As always, Karon, you nailed it with your suggestions, and thank you for your post. Excellent analogy with your grocery store comparison. I personally make the mistake and oftentimes I assume that the customer is aware of what differentiates us from other competitors since all of that information can be seen on the site. But since we only have a brief time to grab the attention of a potential new customer, it is really imperative that this be highlighted on the homepage so it is obvious to the visitor.

  2. Hi Karon, thank you for your great information. You are so right with your copy paste from the manufacturer comment.

    I always think I’m good at copy but forget they just want to hear what you can do for them, not what your agenda is.

    Why should I buy from you. That is such a strong grabber. Thank you.

    All the best.

    Sincerely,

    Bruce Merwin
    http://www.StAugustineVideo.com

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