You know the big guys: Amazon, Staples, Apple, Walmart. They dominate online sales in a billions-of-dollars way, leading US retailers in 2012 and contributing to $225.5 billion in total ecommerce nationwide.
And that’s great. A great trend for the mammoths among us. But what about small businesses? Is there any point to investing in ecommerce?
You bet there is! Ecommerce is changing the way people live and work and shop. And it’s not going away. There’s no time like the present to bring your business to where your customers are: online.
Where’s the Growth?
- According to comScore, a global leader in digital business analytics, $42.3 billion was spent online during the 2012 holiday shopping season, marking a 14 percent increase from 2011.
- The US Department of Commerce reports that ecommerce represented only 7.3 percent of total US retail sales in 2012, but it accounted for 25.6 percent of the growth.
- comScore has found that consumers now spend more time interacting with online retailers on smartphones and tablets than they do on desktops and laptops: 55 percent of all time spent with online retail in June 2013 occurred on a mobile device.
“Give the Lady What She Wants”
What Marshall Field found to be true more than a century ago still rings true today: the customer is always right. Our customers, both businesses and individuals, are becoming more and more online savvy. They want the convenience of shopping from their home or office, any time of day or night. They expect to find the information they need quickly and easily—and if they don’t find it on your website, they’ll find it somewhere else, from someone else. They value exceptional customer service that comes from building a relationship: knowing who they are, answering their questions promptly, and bending over backward to meet their needs.
Where Does My Business Fit In?
Big retailers have their place, but they can’t compete with small businesses on every level. Small businesses excel in sharing values, recreating the person-to-person transaction, and providing expertise. They can blow away competition based on their unique products or added value to their customers. It doesn’t need to be circus-scale, it needs to be an exceptional experience.
Ecommerce can be more of an investment than a static website, but it has become more accessible to small businesses. Providing shopping cart functionality, personalized accounts, loyalty programs, digital coupons, and integration with social media are all possible to help expand your brand and increase sales.