Almost a year ago, right before Christmas at the height of the shopping season, Amazon declared war on small businesses. It encouraged consumers to visit local stores and compare their prices to Amazon's. It even designed a special "price check" app to make it easier on consumers to compare and offered a 5 percent discount for those who decided to shop on Amazon. Some saw it as an attempt to stick the final nail in the coffin of small retailers, and everybody agreed this promotion was distasteful, especially when small businesses were finally starting to recover after a long and hard recession. While online retailers, such as Amazon, are clearly competing head to head with small businesses, online retailers also offer small businesses an opportunity.
The retail business environment has changed drastically in recent years as third-party marketplaces have been getting a bigger slice of consumers' mind and wallet shares. Small businesses can leverage these marketplaces to increase sales and revenue and reach out to a broader market.
How can you do it right?
You first need to choose the right marketplace for you. You should choose it based upon your products and where you are the most likely to meet quality potential customers. So far I mentioned Amazon, but there are many other marketplaces you can sell your goods on. Etsy and Bonanza are examples of marketplaces that focus on handmade crafts. If you would like to sell your products internationally, Alibaba.com might be the site for you. Of course, eBay and Amazon are the most relevant for American retailers marketing to fellow Americans. Another platform that is becoming increasingly relevant, especially for small businesses is the Facebook Marketplace.
Second, you need to make your profile and listing attractive and informative to consumers. Make your products searchable by putting in relevant keywords. Help consumers with their decision-making process by providing them with all the information they might need for the experience to conclude positively. Include detailed pictures that will help consumers visualize the product, even when they can't actually see it in person. Also, be straightforward about shipping costs and duration.
Third, maintain and manage your rating. When shopping online, consumers rely heavily on the reviews of past customers. High ratings from as many people as possible are critical to creating positive word of mouth around your business and products. This is one of the main factors that helps consumers determine which retailers they're going to purchase from. Urge consumers to contact you whenever they experience a problem, and offer a flexible return and exchange policy in order to avoid negative reviews and rating that can seriously hurt future business.
Whether you're using online marketplaces on a regular basis or just looking to increase sales just before the shopping season is over, I hope these tips gave you some ideas of what you should focus on.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessNewsDaily.