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BizReport : Advertising archives : April 05, 2019

Expert: How smaller merchants can compete with large competitors

SMBs are at a disadvantage in the digital space, just as small, mom-and-pop businesses have been at a disadvantage in the brick-and-mortar race. Larger brands can spend more on brand recognition, have better scale with which to offer discounts, and even bargaining power with manufacturers. But, there are changes SMBs can make to better compete. Here are four:

by Kristina Knight

Make it easier to buy

"Small businesses can create a smoother purchasing experience by choosing payment providers who offer better options. Providing a choice to customers is key for conversions -- a survey by Forrester found that when sellers began providing online POS financing options, they saw a 32 percent increase in sales. Options a small business might want to consider include checks, ACH, EFTs and credit cards -- or an all-in-one solution like Credit as a Service. Keep in mind that there are pros and cons to all options, so it's good to have variety. For example, while credit cards are useful, they can rack up processing fees that must be absorbed or passed along to customers. Solutions like Credit as a Service, for example, enable sellers to extend lines of credit to their buyers and be paid the moment they send an invoice," said Brandon Spear, President, MSTS.

Use data to get more business

"Many small businesses don't have the proper tools to make educated business decisions. Due to a lack of data, or access to the data, many go off gut instinct instead. Using an analytics platform can turn the data they have on their customers and prospects into actual insights they can use to generate additional revenue. Choose partners that offer out-of-the-box dashboards that can be configured to any need. This can help identify new customers, increase share of wallet and open up new cross-selling opportunities," said Spear.

Speed up processes

"It's pretty common that small businesses don't have access to the same resources that enterprises do. Bridge the resource gap by leaning on technology partners. One key strength of small businesses is how quickly they can adapt to new processes and adopt new tech. Find ways to use this new technology to automate tasks like marketing emails, lead management and re-ordering to let employees focus on higher-value initiatives. Also consider outsourcing roles like A/R, collections or risk assessment when able to obtain the same service at a cheaper cost than a full-time employee. These solutions can go a long way towards matching the speed and scale of a larger enterprise without needing extra employees," said Spear.

Try talking tech

"Maintaining quality customer service can quickly drain a small businesses' resources, particularly when customers frequently call with basic questions and issues. Implementing chatbots or automated calling options can vastly cut down on customer service hours and resolve these minor disputes, leaving the human representatives to spend more time on complex issues or surprise-and-delight initiatives. Automation will never replace the need and desire for human interaction in every scenario, however it has become a game changer for resolving quick questions and improving customer service when representatives are not available. A 2018 study conducted by SurveyMonkey, Salesforce and other companies found that consumers ranked 24-hour service as the top benefit provided by chatbots, followed by instant responses and answers to simple questions," said Spear.

Tags: advertising, ecommerce, MSTS, Small business tips, SMB competition, SMB tips, SMB trends

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