How to compete in an already established market?

20 replies
Selling socks online is surely not the most exciting or innovative of start-ups. Nevertheless, our team decided to give it a go and recently launched such an ecommerce website. With it, we aim to simplify the purchasing process, take out the catalogue view of online shops, and conquer the European socks market . As simple as it may sound, we believe the idea has a potential. The ever increasing number of people shopping online, especially in that niche, guarantees that the pie to divide will be big enough for all the players involved.

Online shopping has been around for quite some time now and you can hardly bring much innovation to how it's done. On the other hand, there is always room for improvement and optimization of the supply chain and the customer experience. The question is - can you possibly get a competitive advantage over already established online shops and brands just by creating a simpler
process, a faster supply chain, and a better customer experience for your own online socks shop?

Our first aim was to simplify and cost-optimize the logistics process. Hence, we ended up with not only a very reliable delivery stream, but also lower distribution costs. This is essential when dealing with a lot of customers and transactions. The second process we are betting on is our website design, which is optimized to reduce purchasing time and effort required. Buying socks is not something people want to spend too much time on. On the other hand, they would like to have the possibility for direct comparison. Thus, we have developed a tool that enables our customers to review and buy from the shop's product portfolio in a single confined space without having to browse lots of pages to find what they actually want. Sock characteristics (currently only colour) can be dragged and dropped over the product images, which displays the item of interest.

In such an established and competitive marketplace where it is hardly any possibility for disruption. Do you reckon that little advantages, such as the ones mentioned above, will make a difference and help our online shop find its place under the sun and among established competitors?
#compete #ecommerce #established #market #online shop #socks #startup
  • Profile picture of the author mosthost
    Sure, why not? Stress your advantages and that you have a different way of looking at things. Perhaps people are bored with the ways other people are doing things and want to try a 'new guy.'

    You can also build your publicity campaign around your different take on the socks game. Stress that in all your marketing
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    • Profile picture of the author TheSocks
      Thanks for the feedback mosthost. Greatly appreciated.

      It is hard to compete in such overpopulated niche but we hope that we have what it takes.
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      • Profile picture of the author Robert H Cwik
        You might also try to showcase your goods from a different angle, setting you apart from your competition, e.g. "Your Daily Socks", "Sunday Wear", "For Hikers Only", "Cycling to Work?". Just wild examples, but adding a pinch o humor to your advertising/product range description WILL make it stand out.
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  • Profile picture of the author jenmidas
    Why compete, why not JV?
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  • Profile picture of the author Mcoroklo
    Start by answering this question:
    - Why should I buy from you, and not anyone else?

    I personally use Welcome to ShopWitchSocks , as they deliver cheap quality socks AND their website is absolutely awesome (simple and easy to use). Also, the guy behind the webshop is awesome.

    As long as you have a kinda dead website, just like anyone else with no benefits of buying, forget it.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheSocks
    Thanks for the suggestions Robert. The image we are aiming at for our socks is that they can be worn as business and everyday socks. When we widen the portfolio we might have some more specific types that we can target in the manner you are suggesting. Also we are going to implement a promotional window on our landing page soon enough.
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  • Profile picture of the author Trev81
    How can you improve on the sock buying process?

    I've never bought socks online. Prob never will. I like to see and feel them before I buy but that is just me.

    You need to differentiate yourself from other players in the market. Why not start off as a niche sock site and grow from that.
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  • Profile picture of the author KickAss Marketing
    The things you listed that you've done are indeed good ways to be a little (and I mean little) ahead of the competition. They do help but not much to put you further ahead but more like to keep you in the game.

    I'll just suggest one thing I think would make it better. That is to add a very good filter program that let's the customers go directly to the kind of socks they like. More filter options is generally great but don't go overboard and make the site time consuming to use. Also, you could add very good product reviews and product description that really seem like the customers are wearing and testing it out themselves. That would certainly help them a lot while purchasing. These additions will make purchasing easier for clients and will also have a chance to be recommended by them.

    I'd like to add other ideas but that's it for now. :-D

    Good Luck! and nice job!


    ~^_^~
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    • Profile picture of the author TheSocks
      @Trev81 - there are certainly some people that prefer buying from a shelf and wanting to have a tangible touch and look at socks before buying them. Still, the tendency is that the online market is expanding and more and more people don't want to waste their time going with commodities.

      @Don Adrian - that is the main idea. To be able to select the kind of socks you want with just a few clicks. That is the beauty of our tool. No matter how many products we introduce, they will all be available from the same spot. The product review and description is a good idea. Thank you!
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      • Originally Posted by TheSocks View Post

        @Trev81 - there are certainly some people that prefer buying from a shelf and wanting to have a tangible touch and look at socks before buying them. Still, the tendency is that the online market is expanding and more and more people don't want to waste their time going with commodities.
        That might work if we were all hermits, crouching in our caves with our faces bathed in the glow of the monitor, tearing ourselves away from the computer only long enough to sleep and (very occasionally) bathe.

        But we're not hermits. Even people who work from home, like me, leave home to shop. I buy socks at Costco in bulk. They're high quality and the price is right. If for some reason I felt a need to buy socks online, I'd shop Amazon and get free shipping.

        You're referring to socks as a commodity. Are you selling the 24 pack? Is it a can't-be-ignored price? (See Dollar Shave Club -- that's how you compete in an established market.) Will you rush my 24 pack of socks to me or will I have to wait weeks for it?

        Please do some market research before putting a lot of money or time into this venture. It could save you some grief later.

        fLufF
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        • Profile picture of the author TheSocks
          @ Terry and Matthew - I understand what you mean and we are actually targeting the business segment. Our products are perfect to be worn with a suit and that is one of our main angles.

          @ Bobdarko - Thank you very much for your feedback! This is something we will have a good look at and since we are in the process of updating our site we can probably implement something like that.

          @ YoungAndOpulent - With enough determination and hard work nothing is impossible

          @ fluffy - We're certainly not implying that people are hermits. Nevertheless, our research shows that more and more people do shop online. And since the market is expanding and the tendency shows consistent growth I see no reason why this should be an issue.
          We offer free shipping as well if you buy 6 or more pairs of socks. And our deliveries take 2-5 business days depending on the location. Furthermore, we are targeting the European market, so here the competitors are different. I agree with the points that you've made and I want to assure you we have done our homework

          Cheers
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          • Profile picture of the author WriterWahm
            Originally Posted by TheSocks View Post


            @ fluffy - We're certainly not implying that people are hermits. Nevertheless, our research shows that more and more people do shop online. And since the market is expanding and the tendency shows consistent growth I see no reason why this should be an issue.
            We offer free shipping as well if you buy 6 or more pairs of socks. And our deliveries take 2-5 business days depending on the location. Furthermore, we are targeting the European market, so here the competitors are different. I agree with the points that you've made and I want to assure you we have done our homework

            Cheers
            Hi TheSocks...you asked if it is possible to compete in an already established market and what you can do to stay ahead. I'm thinking there are some solid ideas here so what you need to do is sit back, take your pen and paper and see how you can answer some valid questions that were raised and implement those you're not already implementing.

            Unless of course you are using this thread to advertise your website in which case, just ignore me.
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            • Profile picture of the author TheSocks
              Hey Sharon,

              I love people's constructive criticism and I'm taking note of all proposed ideas. The feedback is really valuable so I would love to hear your opinion on the matter, too.

              Cheers
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              • Profile picture of the author WriterWahm
                Originally Posted by TheSocks View Post

                Hey Sharon,

                I love people's constructive criticism and I'm taking note of all proposed ideas. The feedback is really valuable so I would love to hear your opinion on the matter, too.

                Cheers
                Okay guy, since you are actually taking notes...

                I'm thinking that instead of making your niche wide by targeting the business segment, you might think of narrowing it down a bit. In the business world you have the young up and comers; these ones want to impress but can't afford to spend a fortune on a sock. The price range for this demographic would be different.

                On the other end of the spectrum are the CEOs and businessmen who can afford high quality and expensive socks. If you can target this market and make it convenient for them to shop for socks with minimal time wastage, you will have a winner.

                I like the fact that you are making it possible for people to find what they want with minimal fuss. The color thing is good but maybe you can add fabric (e.g. silk, cotton, polyester etc) and make.

                If you want to compete in an already established market you would need to compete on more than a price basis. If your trump card is lower prices, there will always be another business that will provide lower prices than you have. What are you going to do to ensure that my husband will always shop with you when he's looking for socks?

                I really hope that helps.

                P.S. I just assumed you were a guy; forgive me if you're not.
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  • Profile picture of the author Terry Kyle
    Originally Posted by TheSocks View Post

    Selling socks online is surely not the most exciting or innovative of start-ups. Nevertheless, our team decided to give it a go and recently launched such an ecommerce website. With it, we aim to simplify the purchasing process, take out the catalogue view of online shops, and conquer the European socks market . As simple as it may sound, we believe the idea has a potential. The ever increasing number of people shopping online, especially in that niche, guarantees that the pie to divide will be big enough for all the players involved.

    Online shopping has been around for quite some time now and you can hardly bring much innovation to how it's done. On the other hand, there is always room for improvement and optimization of the supply chain and the customer experience. The question is - can you possibly get a competitive advantage over already established online shops and brands just by creating a simpler
    process, a faster supply chain, and a better customer experience for your own online socks shop?

    Our first aim was to simplify and cost-optimize the logistics process. Hence, we ended up with not only a very reliable delivery stream, but also lower distribution costs. This is essential when dealing with a lot of customers and transactions. The second process we are betting on is our website design, which is optimized to reduce purchasing time and effort required. Buying socks is not something people want to spend too much time on. On the other hand, they would like to have the possibility for direct comparison. Thus, we have developed a tool that enables our customers to review and buy from the shop's product portfolio in a single confined space without having to browse lots of pages to find what they actually want. Sock characteristics (currently only colour) can be dragged and dropped over the product images, which displays the item of interest.

    In such an established and competitive marketplace where it is hardly any possibility for disruption. Do you reckon that little advantages, such as the ones mentioned above, will make a difference and help our online shop find its place under the sun and among established competitors?
    Hi Sockguy,

    You may be too far down one road to consider this but a good strategy is to 'sub niche' e.g.

    not targeting

    weight loss BUT weight loss after pregnancy

    not

    dating BUT dating for seniors

    not

    SEO but SEO within YouTube

    You get the idea and can sub-niche even further.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bobdarko
    Great idea. In fact I thought about doing something just like this after seeing the US site called manPacks.com. I'm sure you are aware of this site.
    When landing on your first page i'm not immediately told what your site is about. I just see some socks and an order form. personally this puts me off slightly. I would rather want to be presented with something that tells me something about you and why i should stay on your site. I would recommend getting a good video done and put this on your landing page as an introduction to what you are offereing: subscription quality socks. Take a look at the manpacks website also.
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  • Profile picture of the author MatthewWoodward
    I'm sure with some creative thinking you could cut some unique angles. Loads of social media angles like 'do you take your socks off when having sex' etc etc
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  • Profile picture of the author YoungAndOpulent
    Banned
    This may not have anything to do directly with the topic, but it reminds me of a guy in my city. There was a guy during the 90's who drove around in his van selling socks. Sometimes he'd get on the city's transit system and sell socks as well. I was a kid when I used to see this guy around the city and I remember people laughing at him. They'd always say, "why buy socks from you when I can just get them from you store?" Well, I ran into the guy a year or so ago and he's a multimillionaire now. He's got people working for him around the city driving vans and selling socks.

    My point is: there's always a way to revolutionize an industry. That's how most of the big guys made it. They broke into already established markets and brought fresh ideas.
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  • Profile picture of the author JamesColin
    Banned
    Why not simply apply a referral system to your site? That would set you apart and will give people a reason to shop at your site instead of another one.
    Simply give your customers a referal link such as username.thesocks.com
    if someone buys through their referal, then the referal gets one pair free and the referer too.
    That should be the offer your customers can make to their friends: 'if you buy at this url you get one sock free and me too'
    You can set in the referral terms that this applies only to more than 3 pairs orders.

    I think giving away pairs of socks in exchange for referral is no big deal at all. And that would be a reason to shop at your site instead of others, so long as the others don't catch up.
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  • Profile picture of the author goindeep
    I have a feeling more people are going to get socks for Christmas this year...
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