With the continued evolution and growth of ecommerce, the traditional retail landscape is changing drastically for small businesses.
Undoubtedly, ecommerce will become increasingly crucial to the functioning of small businesses in the future. There will be new chances and tests this year in particular. Global markets, increased exposure on social media and popular platforms like Amazon, improved inventory management, and cost savings are all positives for small businesses. However, for smaller companies, the rise of competition from major retailers investing in their e-commerce operations or partnering with third-party platforms like Shopify could be a problem. However, with the proper methods and resources, local businesses can flourish and grow beyond e-commerce.
Access to customer data
One of the most significant advantages of being an e-commerce business is having access to customer data. This can mean anything from knowing what products are selling best or how many people are purchasing your products at any given time. Still, it also means you can use customer data as a strategic tool to improve customer experience and service levels.
The ability to save money is a significant perk of doing business online. With the help of online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, small businesses can quickly sell their wares without incurring the high costs of warehousing and transporting their products to customers.
Buying in bulk is advantageous for both large and small stores because it allows them to stock more products at lower unit costs.
This has led many smaller stores, like local boutiques and specialty shops, to start offering same-day delivery services, so customers don’t have to wait weeks or months for their purchases before they’re delivered.
The ability to buy overseas suppliers with better pricing is another area where online retailers offer significant advantages over brick-and-mortar stores because they don’t need as much overhead space or labor workforce costs associated with storefront operations.
Improved brand visibility
When you’re a small business, your brand is everything. It’s your company identity, and it can be influential in helping you stand out from the crowd. The growth in the e-commerce industry has enabled brands to reach out to customers directly through their online sites with unprecedented reach and frequency. This shift has helped small businesses to create more personalized customer experiences. By leveraging digital technologies such as AI, big data, and personalization algorithms, small businesses can connect with their customers on a deeper level, allowing them to gain customer loyalty and build stronger relationships. With the right strategies in place, small businesses can use e-commerce to their advantage, creating powerful and lasting brand identities in an increasingly competitive market.
The more options you have, the more likely your customers are to find what they’re looking for. And that means increased competition—a good thing for small businesses.
More competition also means more opportunities for employees who want to work in e-commerce. It means they can choose from a broader range of stores and brands and then act on their choices without feeling like they’re being forced into something because it’s all around them. If there’s too much of a good thing (i.e., high levels of competition), employees might feel less motivated or less willing to innovate until someone else does something better than yours does…and then boom! Boom, boom, boom!
Improved inventory management
You can focus on what matters for your business—selling products—if you automate the mundane tasks in the backend. Regarding e-commerce, this is one of the most significant advantages for local establishments. More products will be sold through fewer channels with less time and effort, leaving you more time to focus on other business areas. Some typical applications where automation has been helpful are listed below.
- Inventory management – Less time spent tracking and managing inventory means more profit per item sold and increased customer satisfaction (since they’re not waiting around). If you want something shipped fast but don’t have enough inventory available in-store or online at that moment—or if there’s an emergency shipment coming in—now is the perfect time for automation!
- Shipping – Thanks to technological advancements, shipping firms like FedEx and First Mile can directly notify customers via email when their packages have arrived. This ensures that no one will miss any crucial information regarding the delivery of their packages. Learn more about shipping for online stores here.
Enhanced customer experience
The customer experience is about more than just the product. It’s about your entire customer journey, from discovery to purchase and repeat business.
In fact, according to Deloitte and Accenture’s Global Survey of Customer Experience (2018), 84% of customers are now more likely to buy again after experiencing a positive brand experience. That means that if you want them to come back repeatedly, you need an ongoing plan for improving your customers’ overall experience with your products or services—and it starts with understanding what drives them in value creation.
Improved customer engagement
The other way that e-commerce is reshaping the retail landscape is by improving customer engagement.
- Customers can check the status of their orders and see how they are progressing through the fulfillment process via an online portal. If you’re selling items with lengthy transit times (like furniture) or have many customers who care about on-time delivery, this is a great feature to offer.
- In addition, customers can view all their purchases from your shop in one convenient location, making locating the goods they need simple.
- It’s a great way to get the word out about sales, new products, and upcoming events at your store while establishing connections with your local community.
Greater access to a global customer base
Your clientele, as you well know, spans the globe. If you’re considering starting an online store, chances are good that customers in other countries would be interested in your products even before you launch.
Because of this, small businesses need to have effective online marketing strategies to attract new customers. To attract customers worldwide, even if you only have a single storefront, you can provide them with low-cost shipping options or even free shipping on purchases over a certain threshold.
As ecommerce continues to grow and evolve, its impact on small businesses is undeniable. With more options available to customers, they have grown to expect better customer service, more flexible payment methods, and faster delivery times. To stay competitive, small businesses must adapt quickly to the changing retail landscape that ecommerce has created. They must embrace digital technologies and use them to their full potential to optimize the customer experience, enhance their delivery services, and keep a competitive edge. The evolution of ecommerce is revolutionizing how small businesses source and sell products, thereby changing the retail landscape for good.