It wasn’t always possible for a small, startup business to succeed in the mainstream retail sector. Facing stiff competition from big box stores and brands that have been thriving for decades, it’s a tough industry to face as an entrepreneur. Between making your presence known among oversaturated markets and fending off critics, most small business owners have their hands full. But the situation is getting better with every passing day. Now, thanks in large part to the internet and the enormous success of some online storefronts, retail is more accessible to entrepreneurs and small businesses than ever before.
In fact, small businesses accounted for nearly 50 percent of the private workforce in 2015 – and this number has been growing at a steady pace ever since.
Greater Access To Critical Infrastructure
The very first e-commerce sites faced a lot of work in the earliest days of the internet. Not only did they have to attract customers to this new, highly innovative platform in the first place, but they also needed to provide service – both phone-based customer service and physical delivery – to locations all around the world. Facing such a monumental task, it’s easy to see why many of these new ventures failed.
In the 21st century, there are plenty of e-commerce platforms and third-party fulfillment services that streamline and optimize many of these processes, making them very accessible for small businesses. Instead of creating an online storefront from scratch, entrepreneurs simply use a template that’s already received plenty of quality assurance testing and security auditing.
Not only can they get up and running within minutes, but online shoppers will already be comfortable using their digital storefront. Many of the initial challenges associated with running a successful e-commerce site have already been solved – but there are some new hurdles to overcome.
Utilizing More AI Than Ever Before
Consumers and small businesses are using artificial intelligence (AI) more than ever before. Even modern cell phones – or smartphones – are packed with AI-driven technology that simply wasn’t available a few short years ago. Such rapid technological development has led to some creative, innovative and useful breakthroughs in the retail space.
Retailers use various forms of AI to make better business decisions, forecast sales, target specific demographics and deliver personalized content. Apart from benefiting consumers by making it more accessible and more convenient to find the exact products they want, it also improves business by driving profitability and bolstering their overall reputation. It’s a winning situation for everyone involved.
The statistics speak for themselves. According to recent studies, consumers amassed more than $450 billion in online sales in 2017 within the United States alone. When you extrapolate this data to include other countries and regions, it’s easy to see how mainstream online shopping has become – and much of it is due to the increasing amount of personalization seen amongst today’s e-commerce platforms.
Strengthening The Customer Experience
Brick-and-mortar retailers can only personalize their services to a limited extent. This isn’t for a lack of trying. These shops have been trying to cater to individual customers through rewards cards, relevant coupons and specific product recommendations. Unfortunately, the traditional business model just doesn’t accommodate the amount of customization and personalization that today’s shoppers crave.
This is where today’s e-commerce platforms really shine. Not only can these sites provide individual customers with ads, deals and coupons that pertain to their actual shopping history, but they can even communicate with previous customers with their name, geographic locations and other details in mind. But the best part is that you can automate all of this using current technology.
Online storefronts and marketers are hoping that the recent push for shopping personalization will help them overcome some of the biggest issues associated with traditional and next-gen marketing strategies.
- According to a recent report by Salesforce, more than 90 percent of consumers actively unsubscribe from emails that are sent from large retail sites.
- Nearly 60 percent of consumers opt out of mobile push notifications as soon as they’re received. Most consumers just don’t want to be bothered with generic advertisements on their smartphones.
- More than 40 percent of all direct mail is never opened. Consumers just don’t have the time – or aren’t interested – in opening and reading physical mailings.
It’s numbers like this that leave small businesses with no choice but to embrace their creative sides when it comes to advertising – either online or through traditional outlets. While it obviously helps new and upcoming businesses attract and retain customers, entrepreneurs who tap into their creative sides will be better positioned to cater to current shopping trends and to make shopping more accessible by personalizing the shopping experience on behalf of each and every customer.
HJR Global is a firm that recognizes innovation and champions the small businesses that have the ingenuity to make their products more accessible for their customers. If you are a business owner or want to start a business, we can help with every aspect of the business life cycle, including securing investors and funding. Contact a member of our team today.
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