How does a small eCommerce business compete against the major brands?

The likes of Amazon, Best Buy, Wayfair, and many others have millions of dollars to spend on high-profile advertisements, for instance. They can put their clout behind major digital marketing campaigns that will attract the attention of potential new and return customers too.

Some online SMEs will feel a little overwhelmed by all of this, wondering how they can steal customers away from the big-name competitors in their industry. However, there are several small ways in which small businesses can potentially challenge their fiercest competitors through cost, marketing, and innovation.

One way that small e-commerce businesses can compete against a large brand is by beating them on value. The most obvious form of achieving this is by offering their wares or services at a reduced price compared to the more prominent brand names.

But cutting costs can be incredibly hard for small e-commerce companies – particularly new ones that are trying to break into a busy marketplace without much of a financial safety net.


Being competitive is not necessarily a matter of just beating major brands on cost, though; value does not always have to be measured in price. Free delivery, personalized gifts, and even offering sustainable alternatives are ways of giving customers a better value than some of the top corporations.

Small online businesses need to think about what they can offer that is new, different, and, of course, improves upon what is being provided by the big names in their field.

Beating big brand names on value is a particularly important move that SMEs can make during their busiest periods. Ecommerce companies, for instance, can transform Christmas from a challenge into an opportunity by merely being competitive on value.

One thing we know about the Christmas period is that it can be costly for the average family. Households are not expected to pay off their debts until well into the New Year after the holidays are over.

Research by PayPlan, furthermore, found that over 50 percent of parents will have to rely on their credit cards to cover essential costs this Christmas because they spend so much money on gifts.

As a result of this, families are looking to value where they can. And this is something that small eCommerce businesses can provide by being competitive. They can potentially take their edge over even the biggest brands at Christmas – especially since, in the UK, 40 percent of Christmas shopping was done online, according to Web Interpret.

Marketing is a key area where their larger competitors can outplay smaller names. As we mentioned earlier, major companies can afford to launch nationwide advertising campaigns to promote themselves.


They have the finances available for celebrity endorsements, television spots, and enormous public relations stunts that can grab the public’s attention. Nevertheless, marketing does not have to be expensive to be effective.

Some of the most effective marketing campaigns have been launched by smaller companies doing something creative. The American start-up company Dollar Shave Club, for example, released a $4,500 viral video, and within 48 hours, it had almost 10 million views, and they had gained over 10,000 new customers.

This was a more prosperous, headline-grabbing campaign than what many brands achieve with ten times that amount of money. It proves that you do not need a huge marketing budget to make a splash; all you need is a strong idea.

SMEs can similarly begin a creative search engine optimization or pay-per-click marketing campaign that their business outranks their competitors when potential customers browse relevant keywords. Business owners may be surprised by how many major brands are still making some fundamental errors when it comes to their eCommerce strategy, whether it is inactive on social media or not having a website that is optimized for mobile.

Having an expert within your organization or enlisting the help of a digital marketing agency for maximizing your digital presence can help you take the edge from your competitors in this area, no matter how established they are.

Big businesses are always slow to participate in innovation, whether that is cultural innovation or technological innovation. They tend to let small enterprises to take risks instead, just in case they do not work out.

This is something that can currently be witnessed in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market where SMEs have seen some huge wins, even compared to a number of big competitors, by capitalizing on the boom in interest for vegan, sustainable, plastic-free and meat-free products. There have been many exciting small brands finding innovative alternatives to packaging and production that are more eco-friendly. In contrast, significant brands are only just starting to jump on this bandwagon.

The same thing is happening with artificial intelligence and virtual reality too, where there are many SMEs grabbing attention by using these technologies in ways that their major competitors do not. It can be a risk, but experimenting with innovative tech, if done right, can give your business a significant edge.


Just a few of how small e-commerce businesses can integrate artificial intelligence into their company is by using it to automate customer communications, analyzing data produced by competitors, and utilizing customer info to provide a better service. It is highly likely that these are things that corporations are still not exploring.

Small eCommerce businesses will always often feel like they are fighting an uphill battle to attract customers from major brands who have a monopoly on their industry. However, SMEs may not need the enormous marketing budget and authoritative name to win customers, even during the most competitive seasons.

Sometimes all it takes is risk, creativity, and ambition. By identifying growing trends and technologies by taking a unique approach to advertising and by figuring out where you can offer the value that competitors cannot, SMEs can not only challenge the big corporations in their sector, they can even succeed.