Small businesses and e-commerce: A difficult undertaking

During the past months, and especially after the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the trend of online shopping has increased a lot. Because of the restriction measures and the consecutive lockdown decisions, it has been made easier and more preferable to shop online. Not only the fashion industry, but also supermarkets, toy stores, pharmacies and cosmetic stores get their share from the online consumers. This sounds great since it is a valid sign that the economy is still working and the money flows. However, there is also another side to it.

Small and medium enterprises most often have a hard time pursuing the online market. Mostly small firms do not have the time, expertise or resources and means to establish a strong digital presence from which they can benefit. It can be hard for a local store to create a proper website for online shopping and organize an e-commerce strategy. Usually, small firms concentrate on social media to keep customers up to date with their latest news or share any offers. But again, they will probably lack potential since the content is either too “amateurish” or not to the point of a sell. For example, a small dress shop will probably struggle to develop an e-shop, take professional pictures of the items, make the necessary technical adjustments and provide full time online shopping customer service, all at the same time. It is simply a resource allocation problem.

That is why the following is imperative: Small, local businesses need to invest in the digital transformation of the market. They do not lack potential; they simply lack opportunity. Since many shops continue being regularly advertised through traditional methods like flyers, posters, door to door promotional material, all they need to do now, is to re-allocate those resources in order to organize and finance an attractive e-shop, to learn how to manage SEOs, to go big on social media, and to establish their online presence. This is neither easy nor quick, and therefore the risk is high, and many things can go differently than planned. However, local markets are severely wounded, and the competition is thriving. The tools, methods and specialized experts on the field are already there. Small businesses need to invest in their pursue of e-clientele, or they will continue losing revenue to others who are already selling online. Right now, turning digital seems the only option.

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