The Grapevine

The Reality of Online Competition

October 3rd, 2017

If you think you have to join them in order to beat them, you’re making a big mistake. [level-members]

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported that the rules regarding who can shop DtC in PA aren’t necessarily being fully enforced. Obviously, this doesn’t directly affect anyone outside the state, but some version of it certainly is affecting you wherever you are. The question is what to do about it.

Unless you have a huge pile of change jangling in your pocket, competing online is probably not the right answer. The established players are frequently deep pocketed and possessed of great depth of expertise in ecommerce. You, a few dollars and a Shopify storefront aren’t going to compete.

That’s partly because those big players are, well, big – big enough to buy in volume and sell at lower margins and lower prices than you’ll likely be unable to match.

What you have that they can’t match is a better understanding of the local market, a personal touch, and the ability to tailor a retail experience to something that is more than purely transactional. If that’s not what you’re doing, you’re going to lose out.

The good news is that these trends can sometimes have a bigger impact on your bigger (but still relatively small) competitors. Those that are caught in between – without the fully personal experience that you can offer nor the huge buying/pricing power of the online behemoths – they may have trouble carving out a niche for themselves.

So don’t wish you were just a little bit bigger. There’s competition at every level. Instead, focus on being the best small shop you can and you’ll grow your revenue and profits organically and sustainably. [/level-members]