For more than a decade, July has served as Independent Retailer Month, a time to celebrate the strides independent retailers make in their local communities. This year, there is much to celebrate. For every $100 spent at an independent retailer, at least $68 of that stays in the local economy. However, new small business data from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) shows persistent inflation, labor shortages and other threats to local retailers and other small businesses.
That’s why it’s important for small, independent retailers to start thinking beyond their brick-and-mortar Main Street shops, and even beyond their own websites. To combat the expensive and burdensome overhead of physical retail stores, small businesses should fully embrace online marketplaces and the opportunity they offer to expand your reach, impact and success. Independent retailers across the United States and around the world can leverage these benefits at little to no additional cost.
Nearly 70% of small business owners have stated that online marketplaces have helped them increase sales — now the same can be true for you. Here are five reasons your business should consider expanding to online marketplace platforms.
1. Increase your reach worldwide
Small businesses often struggle with limited visibility and reach. Online marketplaces provide a platform where small independent retailers, like local boutiques, can showcase their products or services to a larger audience. In fact, 70% of consumers are already trying to support local businesses by shopping online or a mix of online and in-store. Moreover, 92% of U.S. consumers shopping online are already using an online marketplace and, as of 2022, online marketplaces account for the largest share of online purchases worldwide.
That’s a huge consumer segment your business could tap into by selling on online marketplaces.
2. Streamline business operations to save money and time
Creating and maintaining an online presence can be costly for small businesses if they seek to do it entirely through their own website. Online marketplaces offer an affordable alternative, as they handle the technical aspects of website development, hosting and security. Your small businesses can simply set up a profile or online store within the marketplace, reducing the financial burden and allowing you to focus on your core business operations.
Payment processing, for example, is streamlined by online marketplaces, which typically provide secure systems that allow small businesses to accept various payment methods without the need to set up their own payment infrastructure. This eases the purchasing process for customers and provides your independent business with a reliable and secure way to receive payments.
3. Optimize your online marketing
What many independent retailers might not know is that online marketplaces invest heavily in marketing and promotional activities to attract customers to their platforms. These marketplaces have a broad customer base and strong marketing strategies, allowing small businesses like yours to reach potential customers — spanning new cities to new countries — that they might not have otherwise been able to access.
Marketplaces often employ various marketing techniques such as search engine optimization, paid advertising, email marketing and social media campaigns to drive traffic to their sellers’ listings. Marketplaces can also provide insights that can help your small business make informed decisions about how to market goods and services. Your small business will benefit by leveraging the marketplace’s marketing efforts, increasing visibility, brand awareness and, ultimately, sales.
4. Build trust and credibility with consumers
Most online marketplaces have built-in systems for customer reviews and ratings, which can help further build trust with your customers. Positive reviews and high ratings on your products can enhance the reputation of your small businesses and attract more customers. They also have top-notch systems in place that proactively monitor and mitigate fraud or other nefarious activities, ensuring that the customer is getting the safest, most authentic experience.
5. Access more diverse financial support opportunities
Outside of hosting independent retailers on their platforms, many online marketplaces offer small business grants and relief programs throughout the year. Programs like these can be pivotal in getting many independent retailers off the ground, helping you expand your operations or keep overhead costs manageable.
Ultimately, if you are an independent retailer, online marketplaces offer an unmatched ecosystem for expanding the realm of possibility when it comes to who you serve and how you serve them — helping your physical storefronts open virtual doors to the rest of the world. With omnipresent economic challenges facing small businesses every day, now is the time to diversify your retail presence and join the many others turning to online marketplaces.