For most small businesses, marketing their products or services to a large group of people is a daunting challenge due to the cost and effort it involves. This has always been a problem faced by the majority of small businesses owners.
Those that couldn’t cope with it due to the lack of a viable strategy were driven out of business during the early stages. Financial constraints and lack of manpower both contribute to this problem and also feed off itself in turn creating a vicious cycle of decline.
But, for anyone willing to think beyond the tried and tested and embrace the novel and emerging, they can work their way around this problem. More often than not, small businesses don’t have deep pockets and face severe constraints in the working capital. Inability to hire enough manpower leaves the current staff feeling overworked and underpaid. So a viable business model for a small business empowers it to get more out of less. To discover such a business model, they should keep their eyes and mind open watching their business environment learning continually.
eCommerce for SMEs is a viable business model that could allow businesses to reach a vast audience with the fraction of the cost it typically involves in the case of traditional businesses to reach ¼ of that audience or even less.
eCommerce is generally defined as buying and selling products online which also involves the transfer of money and data to execute these transactions. Even though the concept of eCommerce started small, it has now evolved with time establishing online retail and marketplaces that generate massive revenue.
Benefits of eCommerce for Small Businesses
eCommerce came to the fore during the lockdown imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Even relatively small or micro-sized businesses that were already engaged in or were quick to embrace eCommerce enjoyed a clear advantage over bigger and more established players that had shied away from eCommerce. As people became increasingly reliant on the businesses in their immediate locality if they had an active eCommerce operation and were extra rewarded.
On an eCommerce site, products and services are usually presented to the customers in a wide variety thanks to the limitless scalability offered by eCommerce. Customers have the freedom to deepen their knowledge about the product through research. Since most small eCommerce businesses were pretty nimble and offered quick delivery, consumers around the world took to small eCommerce businesses. Just as eCommerce benefits consumers, it benefits businesses likewise.
eCommerce allows businesses to gather and analyse customer data much more efficiently and easily than offline business models. Businesses can track the buying patterns of their customers and adjust their product display and availability based on the forecast demand. The data gathered can further be used to implement personalised promotions. Suggestions can be displayed to the customers even at the point of purchase to enhance the shopping experience.
Almost every activity done in a physical store is carried out in a virtual space when it comes to eCommerce platforms. This reduces almost every cost involved in the day-to-day activities of a real store. For example, this cuts off the wages paid to the managers and the staff. It will also take the rental pressure off the shop owners’ hands since eCommerce dispenses with many of the expenses involved in an offline business. Further, lower costs allow the eCommerce site to provide discounts and special offers on selected items. This entices customers into purchasing.
The internet is a vast open space not bound by geographical borders. Any startup that operates successfully on the internet is quite likely to gain international recognition due to this reason. There are instances where eCommerce ventures that started small at a local base ended up going global contributing to many industries and economies in a significant way.
Search Engine Traffic
Getting ranked on top of the search engine result pages for the right keywords will simply result in continual sales for any online business-backed, of course, by such factors as price, quality and aftersales service as well. This can be considered a great achievement for small businesses since this puts them in competition with the bigger players. But, it has to be noted that this is not that similar to social media traffic where the online store is a topic of conversation that is of immediate interest to people at any given time. The internet has practically democratised commenting on or reviewing a product or service. Sometimes, a business can be one good review away from their breakthrough or one bad review away from getting driven out of the business. Therefore, internet traffic is an important factor that can be potentially advantageous for a small eCommerce business as long as they know how to leverage it.