Monday, July 4, 2022

In With the Old and In with the New: A Study in E-Commerce for Local Businesses

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The small business models are changing everywhere. Whether you’re the local hardware store that’s been in business since the 1930’s or the specialty grocery store with a devoted customer base, you need to embrace technology. Even though everyone in the local area knows these businesses, people want ease of use. Multitasking is the name of the game for today’s modern lifestyle, so helping to engage the technology savvy customer is essential to promoting your business.

Having a website that people can visit is just one of the many aspects of e-commerce. A website provides customers information about your business but also helps them find the items that you have for sale. If your business falls into a small niche, sometimes having an e-commerce option for customers can give them an easy way to find you when they need you. This way, when people are searching for something specific that a large store can’t provide, they can find you quickly.

For a local business, this may seem like a huge investment. After all, the time and effort it takes to engage with technology can mean time and effort not spent working in the brick and mortar shop. If the physical shop has been around for generations, this may seem like a wasted effort. If the business is new, it may feel more efficient to engage the time in working with the community to gain the public’s trust. However, research shows people search for local shops on their smartphones and that 1 in 5 local searches lead to an in-store purchase.

In addition, most people are trying to cut down on their mundane chores. With the balance between work and family life becoming increasingly difficult, people want ease in their shopping experiences. This means that even for a local business, ease of interaction can be a financial boon. While selling items online and then shipping them to customers feels like it’s too much, research shows that when people browse in person and online, approximately one third choose to make the purchase online. Offering the ability to buy from home with the in-store pickup option can add possibly another 33% to your business revenue while costing very little. Providing this ease of service can be the difference between going to the bank or going bust.

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Westcott Towbars, for example, is an Australian company that has been in business since 1973. In the last forty-three years, business models have changed significantly. With many small businesses being unable to adapt, many have have gone bankrupt. Westcott Towbars, however, has managed to create the perfect e-commerce for their needs. With the ability to get quotes online while also view the products that are in stock, their website offers exactly the services that provide the needed balance between in person and online. People doing a local search will be able to find their business and interact with them, but the overhead for the website is low. This business model is one that perfectly addresses the needs of both the company and consumer.

Adapting is always difficult, especially when a business has established roots in a community. However, being a contender in the marketplace means recognizing how to meet new needs in a cost effective way to help keep up with changes. E-commerce done correctly can provide exactly that bridge between old and new.

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Sara Revonia
Sara Revonia
Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author, and Mom. Sara Revonia’s articles are about business, life, and Entrepreneurship.
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