Supply chain ยท 1 September 2016

How small businesses can get ahead in a global marketplace

The online nature of business means entrepreneurs can think more expansively

Resident expert David Poole looks at how smaller businesses and retailers can thrive in today’s increasingly competitive global marketplace.

The rise of ecommerce has brought extraordinary benefits to customers, including lower prices, digital shops with flexible delivery hours to fit in with busy schedules and the ability to instantly search for and purchase items. While a step forward for the savvy shopper, the changing face of retail risks affecting the quality of customer service, which puts small businesses at a huge advantage when it comes to gaining and retaining customer loyalty.

Many small businesses continue to thrive and profit in today?s highly competitive global marketplace, so what are the secrets to their success?

Technological savviness

Technological advances and the rise of social media enable smaller retailers to extend their reach and communicate with customers all over the world, with the same voice they would adopt in-store.

With Brits spending an estimated ?859.6m online every week, small businesses are able to replicate the appeal of their unique storefronts with smartly branded websites. UK consumers are predicted to spend ?60bn online in 2016 alone, so it is no wonder that smaller retailers are adapting quickly to become just as technologically savvy.

A personalised approach

Said technological advancements have allowed small businesses and retailers to scale up and grow without sacrificing the personalised approach that makes each?unique. The insight provided by website visitor traffic, social media interactions, and newsletter click-through rates has given companies the tools to understand the market and their customers better than ever before.

Any retailer with a social media page is only a click away from discovering the age, gender or even music preference of their average customer. By using such insights to tailor sales and marketing strategy, small businesses can more effectively engage with their customers, boosting influence and sales.

A loyal following

It has this year been revealed that it is more profitable to sell to loyal customers rather than constantly seeking new ones, with a five per cent growth in customer retention boosting profitability by 75 per cent.

As such, an increasing number of small businesses are reaching out to cultivate loyal online communities via social media, membership sites or online forums. Another way small businesses are retaining customers is through loyalty programs ? there has been a 30 per cent increase of independent retailers implementing such reward schemes in 2016 alone.

Setting up with the right support

Smaller businesses would not be able to achieve and maintain their success without a network of trusted business partners. While like-minded companies can help cross-sell particular products, service providers are able to provide expert insight and guidance.

Smaller retailers in particular are increasingly looking for logistics support. According to a recent FedEx study, approximately 70 per cent of consumers listed shipping-related factors as the most influential in their decision to buy from online retailers in other markets.?With the support of an established logistics provider, small business owners are able to seamlessly manage supply chain issues and ensure reliable delivery.

Authentic success

As retail and consumer shopping habits continue to evolve, so too do independent retailers. With ever-increasing competition, smaller retailers are finding innovative ways to seal success without losing their unique character, or loyal customers.

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David Poole is managing director of sales, UK South at FedEx Express and FedEx UK. FedEx Express is the world?s largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to every US address, as well as more than 220 countries and territories.?

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