10 22 2014

10 22 2014

Physical Small Businesses in Position to Compete with Large Online Retailers

Owners seeking business capital loans know they not only have to deal with the economy as a whole, but with competitors within their sector. For brick-and-mortar retailers, no competitor is as fierce as online shopping businesses.

However, a recent report from Reuters makes the case that physical stores are enjoying a rebirth of popularity among younger generations. In fact, the news source cited data from retail consultancy firm Verdict predicting the global department store sector is set to expand 22 percent during 2014, as well as by nearly $450 billion by 2019. In the modern age of e-commerce, this is great news for businesses with physical premises.

These figures are supported by a recent survey from Accenture showing while 37 percent of consumers plan to shop online during this holiday season, even more are planning to spend in-store. In fact, of the people who plan to shop on Black Friday, 47 percent said they will be shopping in a physical location.

The question on many business owners’ minds is: What can I do to capitalize on this and set myself apart from online competition?

Competing with e-commerce

One area where online businesses have the competition beat is ease of use. As opposed to leaving their home and visiting a business, many consumers can simply hop online from the comfort of their couch.

However, this leaves the door open for small business owners to maximize a factor online businesses struggle with: personalized customer service.

One of the greatest strengths of small businesses is being able to build loyal relationships with consumers by not only providing them fast, friendly service, but also understanding their specific needs. Small business owners and their staffs can learn a customer’s name, ask them about their day and create a human connection online retailers struggle to replicate.

Of course, small businesses can also take a page out of the online handbook and devote more resources to their own Internet presence. A website with online sales functionality can go a long way toward giving consumers an incentive to stay away from big box online retailers.

Additionally, a strong, local social media presence on Facebook and other platforms can help small businesses reach out to potential customers online. With more people becoming concerned about supporting local businesses and keeping dollars in their own communities, this could be a great way to drive customer growth.

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