New tech tools drive SME success in E-commerce
Traditionally small to medium sized business have been limited in a number of ways to drive their businesses forward in ECommerce through lack of money, access and visibility. However with a new digital era , as shoppers change their shopping habits and new tech tools become available, so SMBs are finding new ways to compete and outshine their larger neighbours.
Traditionally, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have been considered small players in the business world, and that idea didn’t stop when the digital world and e-commerce arrived. Statistics and users’ shopping behavior are however changing that thinking and showing how SME can play an important part in global commerce.
Maybe small can’t beat giants in the short term, but SME businesses can be bigger if they develop a complete strategy and equip themselves with tools that improve business performance. When customers shop they look for a range of search options and a flexible shopping experience that let them shop anytime and anywhere. First computers, then smartphones and now even watches are shopping portals that every SME should incorporate to their e-commerce plans.
How can they succeed with these ambitious goals when the market is invaded with a growing number of larger companies?
Omnichannel: The future of SME e-commerce businesses
It is often believed that SMEs need to constantly fight for further capital injection and therefore don’t have time to develop more sophisticated strategies. But that’s not true, and they have a great advantage: small and medium-sized enterprises have less risks and they are free to explore more innovative actions and new generation tech tools. Most users don’t even consider if a brand or company is big or international enough before shopping for a product: they choose the option with the best information and the best crafted digital experience.
That means there are 3 key ways to grow and get to customers as a SME business:
- Be mobile: m-commerce is a crucial part for any e-commerce businesses, and they should add and adapt the sales channels to mobile apps and devices. Besides, Europe has the highest number of mobiles phones and no SME should get around this fact.
- Be social: Social media networks are another daily key for customers and SMEs. Any business must be alert about new ways of positioning their products, like the recently added Instagram shop button.
- Be global: The most important strategy is going omnichannel. Customers expect to find a business everywhere and with consistent product content in each platform: in-store, app, website, marketplaces, mobile… The process gets more complicated when these channels are interconnected, like shopping online but choose in-store for pick up, so stock must be updated in real time.
And this demands the best efforts possible: omnichannel SMEs must integrate all their channels and sales chain processes to enable a consistent and seamless customer experience.
Key tools for new and growing e-commerce SMEs
By 2020, 50% of global SMEs will have an e-commerce site, but in specific countries like the UK the number of small and medium-sized enterprises will rise to 88% in 2018, according to a report by Capital Economics and commissioned by Amazon. Meanwhile, sales through marketplaces for SMEs will grow from 21% to 27% this year.
Numbers are promising, but they also make SMEs face up a great challenge. These type of business needs to commit to exceptional manufacturing, distribution and marketing organization before excelling with a high level performance. They need to ensure a strong multichannel structure with great team communication, time management and product content quality. As without those basics, any business will soon start faltering.
How to choose the best digital tools and services for this purpose is a difficult decision, but it doesn’t have a complex answer. According to a survey made by Intuit Inc, over 2,000 business owners across the USA, UK, Canada and Australia, 41% of SMEs weren’t sure what tools were best for their business and 39% were worried about integration and training costs.
Even though there are thousands of apps out there for e-commerce, a SME just needs the basics. A good teamwork and collaboration tool that manages e-mail, communication and tasks to keep the workflow under control. Also monitoring tools that help with A/B testings, marketing campaigns, newsletter or mailing actions, and metrics analytics. A complete social media management panel, like Buffer or Hootsuite, is another great bet to improve online positioning. And as for SMEs in e-commerce, the user experience is the most important issue and these businesses should have a CRM or Customer Relationship Management to ensure perfect customer service.
Other important tools to improve productivity and boost revenue growth are DAM or digital asset management, and product information management or PIM systems. These systems are no longer just available for larger companies: they’re powerful tools and take little cost or time to install, especially if SMEs choose a PIM in the cloud with integrated DAM that offers a scalable solution adapted to the business product volume, number of sales channels and performance over time.
Complete, coherent and quality product content is the most valued virtue among satisfied customers. With smart tech tools a small and medium-sized enterprise can easily harmonize all their platforms and have consistent and updated product and inventory information across all product pages. Through content quality and attention to detail SMEs can firmly make a difference in the e-commerce market. They’ll have the best advantage against bigger competitors and be better prepared for the good times to come when their businesses grow, more catalogs, channels and countries are added and their content management efforts can reap major benefits.