Is Amazon Hurting Your Small Business?
Use These Tips to Stay Competitive
Article by Marissa Perez. Edited by Lionel Aluka
There’s no denying that Amazon has changed the retail landscape. Some small business owners say Amazon is the reason their sales are on the decline, despite their efforts to keep up with the growing e-commerce sector. It’s true that Amazon’s ubiquity.
presents challenges to small business owners. These days, not having an online presence isn’t an option, and perks like free and fast shipping are no longer a pleasant surprise but rather an expectation for online shoppers.
This is difficult for small business owners who can’t absorb extra costs the way an enterprise like Amazon can. However, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope of competing in the retail sphere.
How Small and Medium Size Businesses Can Compete in E-Commerce
E-commerce is no longer optional for retail businesses. Even if you’re selling a product that can’t be sold and shipped online, you still need a website to tell shoppers about your product and convert them into paying customers. Building a top-notch e-commerce site can seem overwhelming when you’re coming from a brick-and-mortar background, but you can build a lean e-commerce store that doesn’t erode your profit margins.
E-commerce website builders and e-commerce platforms make it possible to build a simple e-commerce website, but if you really want to create an engaging and appealing website your customers will love, hiring a web designer is your best bet. Look for qualified web design professionals through online job boards.
With the advent of drop-shipping in which the manufacturer fulfills and ships orders, there’s no need for businesses to store or manage their own e-commerce inventory. As a result, businesses don’t have to front the cash for inventory or deal with high overhead costs associated with warehousing, fulfillment, and inventory management.
On the other hand, running a warehouse can be made simpler with the help of an experienced warehouse manager. The right manager will be knowledgeable about equipment and procedures that can improve efficiency. They also will be up-to-date on the latest technologies that can improve your profits.
Fast and free shipping is important to customers, but that doesn’t mean your business has to cover its costs. Avoid adding shipping charges during checkout, but do build shipping costs into product prices. While surprise charges at check-out might scare shoppers into abandoning their cart, many buyers won’t flinch at slightly higher prices. Businesses can also limit free shipping to purchases over a certain threshold and subtly encourage shoppers to spend more.
It’s easy to be forgotten in the crowded e-commerce sector, but businesses can build lasting relationships with shoppers by collecting email addresses through their online store and using email marketing to keep shoppers informed about online and in-store happenings. Despite what many people think, email marketing is surprisingly effective, and depending on the size of the email list, there are free options available to businesses.
The Merits of Brick-and-Mortar Businesses
Sometimes, the best way to compete with Amazon is by not competing at all. Instead of trying to beat the leading e-commerce companies at their own game, some businesses find the most success delivering what Amazon can’t: an engaging, old-fashioned brick-and-mortar shopping experience. That doesn’t mean e-commerce is irrelevant to these businesses, but by delivering an exceptional customer experience that can’t be found online, they convince consumers it’s worth doing their shopping locally with a small business.
Brick-and-mortar spaces aren’t cheap, however, so businesses that go this route need to be committed to creating a customer experience that draws shoppers in. Sometimes, that means making a bigger investment than you have cash on hand, but Small Business Administration real estate loans can bridge the gap. There are two types of SBA real estate loans available: SBA 504 loans, which provide fixed interest rates, and SBA 7a loans, which have a broader scope but can be useful for real estate transactions.
Pivoting toward e-commerce and investing in the brick-and-mortar shopping experience are both viable strategies for staying relevant in the e-commerce era. For some small businesses, the best solution is a combination of both. No matter what you decide, what matters is that you’re delivering the retail shopping experience that today’s consumers want.
For tech support, marketing, strategy, and innovation that can take your business to the next level, talk to the experts at Aluksons Business Solutions today!