E-commerce has become a very well-oiled machine and the market is saturated with both small and large businesses vying for hungry consumers and their wallets. Can small businesses really compete with large companies? The answer is yes. Small online businesses and smaller storefront companies can utilize emerging trends to market their products, and thus become more competitive against large recognizable companies, notably Amazon and Wal-Mart.
Online shopping and/or E-commerce is growing 25% per year over year, however 46% of small American businesses do not have an actual website to offer consumers.
That statistic enables small businesses to start-up online shopping and to become more relevant in a much desired shopping venue. How can they accomplish that?
First, they need to develop a website where their products can be seen and be made available to purchase and hand in hand with a website is to be on social media like Facebook or Twitter. Post-automation services (PostPlanner and Social Oomph) which offer ‘pre-set’ scheduled posts to be delivered can be of great service for companies that don’t want to be tied down to the social media sites for very long.
Secondly, they need to be located in a directory like Yelp, YP and more recently Google My Business which is a free business directory which lists the name of the business, the location (if there is one and is not required), the hours of operation, telephone number and etc.
Google My Business also allows companies to monitor how many ‘views’ the business generates, how many clicks they receive at certain times of the day and etc. Thirdly, companies can use personal email ‘inboxes’ to influx direct advertising with its customers.
Lead sales can generate a lot of business opportunities and retail growth; 89% of marketers prefer email as their main method. Email marketers like the free MailChimp website, provide companies the ability to personalize the connections to their shoppers, thus building an interpersonal relationship where shoppers, mostly Millennials and Generation Xers can happily shop for their books, music, clothing and what nots.
Target A Specific Audience
One specific trending strategy for successful online marketing is to concentrate on targeting a small audience with specialized preferences, i.e., a unique niche. Small online businesses can ‘go deep’ with the specialty market vs. the large scale approach of bigger companies. They can also use trending ‘soft sell’ methods which utilizes the local community and tap into life experiences within those areas. Newer online payment capabilities like Bitcoin currency and Square can ease the use of payment options. Those avenues can be more advantageous to smaller companies verses large corporations because the implementation for conversions is problematic for bigger companies.
Big businesses spend millions for advertising and can sell their products cheaper due to such a tremendous quantity of shoppers they have. And those shoppers are already established and loyal. They can easily switch to online shopping and the website links are readily available and easy to find. Money is not a problem for large online companies and they can hire the brightest programmers and web designers; however on the negative side, they are not as flexible as smaller online businesses and they cannot change as quickly.
Smaller businesses need to ‘market smarter!’
The following tips may improve the chances for small online companies to succeed in the competitive business of E-commerce:
- If you don’t provide a Blog, get one! And if you do have one, make it better.
- 95% of Americans now own a mobile device and shoppers use those devices to do their purchasing… advertise!
- Use live-streaming videos. 30% of online shoppers prefer increasing the use of videos so they can see their products live and FB users viewed video streaming 100 million hours per day!
- Use social media for tracking customers habits and buying selections.
- Offer mobile payments.
- Text coupons and discounts to consumers automatically and offer ‘opting-in’ for those discounts as well.
- Create an APP for mobile devices
New technology is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds and smaller online businesses can benefit from them. AR (augmented reality) which is the technology of looking at an object or system or procedure through ‘smartglasses’ is one of those advancements that can give a consumer and the client a better shopping or communication experience. Customers can visually interact with their potential product through the use of a layered graphic (an in-depth visual analysis of a subject/object/procedure, etc.) 78% of online consumers prefer the products they are thinking of purchasing to be ‘brought to life.’ What better way!
Statistics matter and knowing who our shoppers are do too. Millennials count for 67% of online shoppers; Generation Xers count for 56%; Baby boomers count for 41% and Seniors account for 28% of online shoppers. All in all, 96% of Americans have purchased online products in their lifetime and 80% have done so during the last month.