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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : December 13, 2011

Online shoppers say company size doesn't matter

Recent research in the UK implies that small businesses feel threatened by the advent of ecommerce. However, new research demonstrates that the factors driving consumers' online behavior provides small businesses with unique advantages.

by Helen Leggatt

New_Yell_Logo.gifYesterday we reported on research that showed a third of British small businesses view ecommerce as a threat. But new data released by Yell UK and the University of Southampton School of Management demonstrates how doing business online levels the playing field between small and large companies.

"Contrary to perceived wisdom, consumers are not reassured by dealing with a large firm or brand online. In fact, the opposite is the case," says Richard Hanscott, CEO of Yell UK.

Of the more than 200 consumers that took part in blind focus groups, in which they were asked to choose which website they'd prefer to use out of small and large competitor firms, more respondents chose the smaller firm as their preferred supplier in almost two thirds (64%) of focus groups. The larger player won out in only a fifth (21%) of experiments.

In fact, just a quarter of consumers chose company size as a deciding factor instead citing easy-to-find information (81%), clear address and location information (78%) and a telephone number (77%) as important influencers. Easy-to-read descriptions (75%) and a simple approach (66%) also scored highly.

A business that is local was important to almost half of participants (43%).

"The factors driving consumers' online behavior offer a unique advantage to SMEs over their larger competitors," said Hanscott.

"This presents a clear opportunity for smaller firms to give themselves a competitive edge via their online presence, by presenting the human face of the business and promoting their ability to deliver a more personal service."

Tags: brand marketing, ecommerce, online, research, small business, website optimization,

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