January 24, 2011, 11:19 AM

How a niche strategy scores online

In a sea of big-name category completion, an independent retailer needs to stand out.

Lead Photo

Ali Wing

The rapid growth of retailing online may signal a robust future for the industry as a whole, but for individual retailers, more consumers spending more on the web means increasing competition as more merchants follow that shift. To stand out, retailers must offer something different—one thing that even smaller players can do successfully.

At Internet Retailer’s 2011 Conference & Exhibition, the CEO of Giggle, Ali Wing, will talk about how the independent web- and store-based retailer has been able to compete against well-funded, larger chains to carve out a niche in the baby gear category in a session entitled “Staying in the race: How a small retailer maintains its pace against big competitors.”

 “Better specialty retail is inherently multichannel. Your customers want to shop with you in all ways, on their terms,” Wing says. “So participating online isn’t optional—it’s a must-do.” 

 In the session Wing will address the challenges smaller online retailers face in identifying a niche. She will zero in on the right customers and talk about how to earn their trust and how to entice them to become repeat buyers. She also will offer tips on sourcing inventory at a competitive cost, attracting and retaining qualified staff and more.

Wing says it’s critical to have an appropriate strategy for a retailer’s brand, understand how customers use online vs. offline channels and optimize for both, and figure out what the discount-oriented, comparison shopping model popular on the web means for e-commerce.

“Bottom line is that you need a reason for being, and to be able to deliver your value proposition in every channel,” she says. “Regardless of whether you’re online, in stores or distributing a catalog, your brand strategy has never been more important.”   

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Wing to speak because of her success in both the multichannel retail and online start-up environments.  Before starting Giggle in 2003, she worked for companies ranging from Nike to San Francisco Bay Area start-up Gazoontite, the first retailer of branded environmental control products for allergies and asthma. She is a columnist for parenting publications and the author of "The Giggle Guide to Baby Gear."

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