Local Shops Profit From E-Commerce In Unique Ways
E-commerce may only comprise 10% of the total retail market, but that’s a $341.7 billion slice. Quite a big piece, indeed.
With 90% of the retail space not engaged in e-commerce, there’s a huge amount of growth potential in the sector. Typically, local businesses have only a small e-commerce business, if any at all. In effect, those businesses are neglecting an excellent means of promoting their businesses and losing sales — both online and in-store — as a result.
Many local store owners believe having a storefront is enough visibility, and that opening an online store is, frankly, too much of a hassle. A boutique home furnishings store might, for example, have frequently changing inventory. But the ability for a customer to browse the shop’s offerings online may outweigh the potential any given item is not immediately available.
Of course, most shoppers understand that their local merchant might have to order an item or that a similar product might have to be substituted. But the way those shoppers are using the Internet is as a recognizance mission. It is a nuanced meaning of convenience shopping. Rather than ordering the product from the site, they simply want to see if the retailer offers it, or offers a style of the desired product. For example, they want to go to the local natural food store’s web site, see that in fact it does carry essential oils, and then stop in at a convenient time to peruse the offerings in person.
The advantage is not just to provide a means for shoppers buy online, although that certainly is a part of it. Rather, it’s to extend the local merchant’s appeal. Local businesses are far more adept at cultivating relationships that e-commerce merchants are, even those who have sizable brick and mortar presence. It’s far more likely that the neighborhood women’s apparel store will know your name, your children’s names and your shopping preference for your sister than Macy’s will.
And that is the key to small business success: Knowing thy customer. It’s something successful mom-and-pops excel at naturally. It’s an asset that neighborhood stores have naturally and that the big boys must work at constantly. That relationship between small business owner and customer is like gold.
That’s why an e-commerce site is a “thank you” to your loyal customers: “Here is something that will help you shop more efficiently. It’s a recognition of your busy schedule and a tool to assist you.” It keeps your store top of mind and, in combination with other customer relationship management tools, allows you to effectively compete against the behemoths at 1 am on a Wednesday morning.
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