Success in the World of Ecommerce: A Roadmap for Small Businesses in 2022
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck in 2020, no one felt the shock like small businesses. Put simply, larger companies and corporations had the financial infrastructure in place to survive pandemic pressures. Whilst bigger organisations could reallocate budgets and hire technical support to make the shift to ecommerce, small and local businesses were forced to embrace ecommerce or shut their shops.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. One of the significant developments in the last year that have kept small businesses afloat? That shopping local is #trending. And there’s no sign of it slowing down.
Why Small Businesses?
Perhaps it was time spent in meditation, or maybe additional attention to pandemic-era inequity. Whatever the case, the pandemic has helped people to reassess what they value most.
Time spent with family and friends, work life balance, values and people-first attitudes — these are all newly emerged pandemic priorities that have pushed people (consumers and employees) to the startup, local, or small business model.
In fact, nearly one-third of UK shoppers have claimed that Covid-19 had promoted them to shop small or local, rather than shop more with Amazon in recent years.
Another compelling facet of small businesses during the pandemic? Community. Small businesses are agile and, by definition, personal. They naturally connect with their audiences, and have a track record of cult followings and close-knit communities.
For a consumer base kept isolated and apart for the majority of 18 months, friendship, connections and community are paramount. By definition, local businesses can also more easily (and authentically) plug in to community events and social causes.
Shared impact through Corporate social responsibility initiatives are a major selling point for all consumers, especially Gen Z and millennials.
The world may be in a state of flux, but consumer convictions for community, collaboration, and caring are unlikely to waver. Now is the time for SMBs to build on their not-so-small strengths.
Create a Community Around Cause
A Harvard Business Review article, published in 2013, explained that customers prefer to share purpose with companies, not sit on the sidelines. They want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.
They want to be a part of a community that helps the community. Brands can bolster the impact of their philanthropy efforts by putting customers in the driver’s seat; empowering them to guide charitable impact.
Retailers and brands, like Ninety Percent and Bookshop.org, allow customers the option to give back while giving into the pull of retail therapy. “Checkout charity initiatives'' aren't new, but their impact is widely known.
But brands don’t have to stop at checkout campaigns offered at the till. As the conversation around transparency continues to underwrite brand-customer relationships, more concrete methods of demonstrating impact are preferred. Philanthropy can be more meaningful—to the community and to the customer—when integrated with the customer journey.
New research from Iterable shows that 87% of consumers have claimed they are more receptive to brand messaging if they feel connected to a companies’ beliefs and values. Small businesses should hone in on which values intrinsically compel their organisation to be socially responsible and socially conscious.
Once those values are identified, they must be emphatically lived at all levels of the business.
Once value and meaning are identified, the road is clear to capture additional market share; in 2020, Small Business Saturday showed heightened success in revenue, with research showing a record £1.1 billion spent with small businesses. For this reason, the campaign was added to the shopping standout last year, alongside the mainstays of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the run-up to Christmas.
Once a central and meaningful narrative is identified, small businesses can move this messaging into the digital orbit and work on building customer loyalty alongside growing a wider consumer audience.
Optimise and Operationalise Ecommerce
Consumers may prioritise shopping local, but they also expect outstanding ecommerce experiences. Small businesses need to deliver a consistent and cohesive omnichannel experience to make it easy for consumers to satisfy their mission-driven motivations, and avoid temptation from big-box brands that have long optimised their ecommerce interface and experience.
Verishop, an online shopping platform and customer of Iterable, has played an important role in supporting emerging brands. Verishop’s success is proof of concept that ecommerce optimisation is integral to SMB success.
As one of the largest aggregators for DTC and independent brands, Verishop simplifies the browsing experience while also bringing new ways to shop (Livestream Shopping, Creator Program, etc.).
Working with mission-driven brands that follow ethical and environmentally-friendly practices, Verishop showcases a variety of small businesses that have led the pack last quarter. Brands that establish themselves on online markets and successfully leverage their tools represent a new age of digital success stories.
Mobile as the New Medium
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it really fall? Schrodinger's cat, anyone? The point we’re trying to make is that message and mission means nothing without an audience. Small businesses need to get noticed by consumers, and mobile is the medium of the moment.
Mobile marketing builds on rich data analysis of customer behaviours and distributes relevant, timely messaging. A survey conducted on Iterable’s 1100+ consumers shows that 63% use their phones for more than four hours a day.
So, where consumers spend so much of their time either on their mobile devices or within arms-reach of these, phones truly are today’s vehicles for enabling conversations.
As with marketing strategies, it is crucial for brand messaging to remain authentic, mission-driven and go beyond a transaction-based relationship. Setting your local business as an innovative, customer-focused brand can differentiate you in a saturated market and reach a global audience.
There is so much opportunity for businesses to gain hearts, minds and all-important share of spending! The shift in consumer focus to buying local is a golden opportunity and with these strategies in mind, businesses can be well placed to capitalise on this long into 2022, and beyond.