Strategies for Online Retailers

The online retail market is competitive, and gaining an edge on the competition requires hard work. However, there are a number of viable strategies for companies of all sizes to succeed. Here are a few strategies for online retailers looking to thrive in a difficult but potentially lucrative field.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Gaining traffic is perhaps the greatest barrier for online retailers, and it can take a significant amount of time to build a base of returning customers. Pay-per-click advertising is a great way to attract potential customers. Because retailers only pay when a customer clicks on an ad, retailers can experiment with an array of ads at a low cost. Furthermore, pay-per-click advertising lets retailers target specific products, letting them focus on more profitable items. Networks typically offer easy signups and don’t require upfront payments to launch a campaign.

Offline Advertising

Although it generally requires a significant upfront investment, offline advertising is a great way to differentiate a company from its online competitors. Strong branding is key, and a memorable company name or motto can lead to effective ads. People often ignore or even block advertisements online, and more traditional advertising techniques can be great for reaching this large audience. Television, radio and newspaper ads aren’t cheap, but the potential benefits make them options to consider for companies with sufficient capital to invest.

Retail Blogs

Creating a strong brand is essential for building a reputation and a customer base, and blogs provide a great way to start reaching out to potential customers. Retailers can stick to product news and reviews, and adding a bit of personality can help companies turn non-customers into customers. Online retail blogs are also great for building email lists to send customers information about upcoming sales and promotions. Blogs are long-term projects, but a bit of patience can go a long way.


Customers love incentives, and offering compelling benefits can be a great way to turn infrequent customers into loyal ones. Loyalty programs can be lucrative as they encourage customers to stick with your store instead of shopping for the lowest online prices. Subscription programs have become popular as well; sending customers products for a monthly fee can help generate a steady stream of income. It’s important to be creative, and companies will need to market these programs. Those that succeed, however, can create stability in an unpredictable field.

Social Media Marketing

Social media presents a way for companies of all sizes to create a likable brand. Companies often spend a consider amount of money trying to reach out to customers, but social media creates an environment where customers seek out companies. Spending a bit of time talking to customers is a great way to create repeat clients, and social media lets companies share their expertise to build a reputation. Social media also presents the possibility of creating viral content, which can expand your brand to a virtually limitless market.

Networked Stores

Another strategy to consider is creating multiple brands. While doing so is more expensive than focusing on a single brand, it increases to odds of one of more brands exceeding expectations by ranking well in search engines. Hosting multiple sites also lets you run ads for your other websites at no cost, and email lists let you inform customers about other types of products they might be interested in. Domains are relatively cheap, so consider buying a few different ones to experiment with.

While online retailers face fierce competition, the field continues to grow at a rapid pace, and those that succeed have tremendous opportunity for growth. Make both short- and long-term investments, and focus on strategies that differentiate your business from the competition.