How Independent E-Tailers Can Give Big-Name Retailers a Run for Their Money
These days, anyone can sell online and make significant profits. During the budding years of e-commerce, online selling was dominated by large retail corporations with the resources to sell (and ship) far and wide. But new technologies and platforms (think Etsy and Shopify) are giving independent e-tailers the resources, tools and momentum they need to push their bigger counterparts out of the way.
Anyone can open an account on one of these marketplaces and begin selling online worldwide. In fact, marketplace sellers on Amazon.com sold more than 1 billion units worldwide in 2013 alone. With the process of getting set up to sell online being so easy, the mind-set for small independent e-tailers has shifted from figuring out how to sell online to focusing on how they can make the most profits doing so.
So what's the key to making big profits as a small independent e-tailer? Don't confine your business within the borders of the country you're selling from. The small e-tailers that are bringing in the biggest profits are leveraging technology and software customized for e-tailing that makes selling internationally as easy as possible.
There are three main technologies that small independent e-tailers should employ for increasing profits by selling internationally:
1. Marketing tools: Independent e-tailers have to wear many hats, including that of brand marketer, often without any previous experience in marketing. Fortunately, there are many user-friendly marketing tools for online retailers that enable them to easily target their ideal audience by location, interest, and specific demographic and behavioral characteristics. For small e-tailers whose biggest audience may be outside of the country, marketing technology can allow them to easily target those buyers online. Many of these tools can be found for free online, including MailChimp for email marketing and Google Analytics for website analytics.
2. E-commerce software: There are many solutions available for independent e-tailers to start, grow and manage their online businesses. Ranging from inventory forecasting and order tracking to online invoicing and payment gateways, deploying these solutions can be critical to an e-tailer's success. Examples of such solutions include Bigcommerce, CrazyVendor, Paydirt, and many others.
3. Social media: One of the easiest ways for independent e-tailers to reach a global customer base is through social media. E-tailers can create a product or brand persona on major social networks to interact with customers and promote new products. Social media also proves to be useful as a customer service tool, enabling e-tailers to quickly address customer concerns and feedback. Free tools are also available to manage social media channels, including Hootsuite, which enables users to track activity and plan posts across social networks.
When small e-tailers open up their business to the entire world, their profits start flowing — but they need to be making the process of international selling as easy as possible to keep those customers and profits coming. For example, even an independent e-tailer in Malaysia or Nigeria or Pakistan can now seamlessly sell to buyers around the world, and continue to sell with the use of cost-effective technology that makes selling easy for the e-tailer and buying easy for their customers.
Nissim Alkobi is the head of community at Payoneer, a company that's empowering global commerce by connecting businesses, professionals, countries and currencies through its cross-border payments platform.