I’ve said that small businesses have a big future to look forward to in today’s market, but it’s not just because large, traditional businesses are struggling to adapt to the needs of the modern shopper. Online mega-retailers like Amazon, which are currently putting immense pressure on those large, traditional retailers, can also do a ton to help small and mid-sized businesses thrive.
As more small businesses look to offer both online and in-store shopping options, large online retailers can provide significant logistical support, in addition to exposing the products of small businesses to a diverse, international audience. It takes effort from both sides to make it happen, but there are huge opportunities for large online retailers and small, traditional retailers to succeed together.
How Online Mega-Retailers Can Help SMBs
Tapping into a global economy sounds great, but it can also be intimidating if your primary experience has been marketing to a smaller local audience. However, dissecting how the mega-retailers do business can reveal opportunities for small business. Take your personal experience shopping at online mega-retailers like Amazon. Analyzing that experience can tell you quite a bit about what those retailers can do for your small business. Think of the number of retailers that you encounter in the Amazon marketplace, the logistics required to manage all those different product offerings, and the fact that whatever you order almost always shows up on time, as advertised. You can break down the opportunities into four distinct categories:
- Logistics – Whether an order comes from five states away or five time-zones away, your ability to provide the right product, on time, and as advertised is absolutely crucial if you want to grow your small business online. This is one of the hardest parts about adapting to an online marketplace – trying to handle all of the details yourself. The most successful online mega-retailers are experts on logistics, and the right online retailer can provide the support that small businesses need to succeed online.
- Warehousing and Fulfillment – Selling your products to a wider audience online may require an increase in inventory, which can pose a challenge for small businesses without a warehouse of their own. Online mega-retailers like Amazon can also provide support in this area, offering both the space necessary to warehouse that inventory and the fulfillment solutions necessary to make sure it always reaches the right destination on time. Considering the costs of managing inventory, the savings from this sort of partnership can be significant.
- Visibility – No matter how well-established and devoted your local customer base is, selling your products to a wider audience online is going to require effective marketing. Simply having your items available for purchase through online mega-retailers is a great start because those are the places where everyone goes to shop. The largest online brands also have extensive experience marketing to a digital audience and understand what it takes to inspire shoppers to try something new.
- Customer Experience – Ultimately, the marketing, logistical, and fulfillment support provided by online mega-retailers can lead to a better customer experience for people who choose to purchase from your small business. Your customers benefit from smooth logistics and fast fulfillment, while your business benefits from the increased visibility provided by online retailers.
If you’re looking to expand the footprint of your small business into the world of online retail, then working with mega-retailers is a logical place to start. As large, traditional retailers continue to falter, there will be more opportunities than ever for successful small businesses to form mutually beneficial relationships with online mega-retailers. When those relationships lead to a better customer experience, everybody wins. #RetailRelevancy