How Local Businesses Can Use Ecommerce

Buying Online

Recently, 16% of total retails sales were online. Or ecommerce.

If you’re a Millennial, or younger, these numbers may surprise you a little. If you’re in those generations then the percentage of ecommerce sales would seem to be much higher.

The trend is clear. Ecommerce is getting more and more share of the overall retail pie. And that will continue. Slowly for a few years, but then increasing rapidly as younger generations, comfortable with ecommerce, reach their full buying power.

What does that mean?

Well, it means a few things. One important item is that local businesses can, but shouldn’t, rely as much on customers walking through the door.

Ecommerce is a real opportunity.

Here are some ways for local businesses to use ecommerce…

Ecommerce + Shipping

The first opportunity for a local business, certain local businesses, is to do ecommerce plus shipping. Many local businesses can ship their products. Whether with traditional carriers like UPS or FedEx or with other options like your own truck, Uber and other new gig economy type options.

People are willing to pay for shipping because it saves them time and effort. They are willing to pay for local products as well because those can often be fresher and quicker than getting something from a big ecommerce site like Amazon.

Ecommerce + In-Store Pickup or Service

Other people prefer to pick up their online purchases in store. Walmart has been doing a big push on this recently. It’s been popular with traditional retailers in recent years. Most allow for in-store pickup and they actually encourage it.

However, local businesses seem to be falling behind. But that’s where the opportunity is. If you have unique items, getting an ecommerce site setup and allowing for in-store pickup is wonderful.

Even if you have a service, getting payment upfront and online is great for speeding up the in-store or on-site process. They check-in and you begin with the service.

Ecommerce + Pay In Advance

And that leads into the next one, which is paying advance online. Say you have a customer that needs an oil change. They pay online, their laptop or phone, you get the order and book them. They arrive and you begin with the service.

Very efficient. Easy for the customers. They’re comfortable buying online. They want to buy online. Offer them the service.

Ecommerce + Online Marketing

The big thing with ecommerce is that it goes hand-in-hand with online marketing.

People are spending around 7 hours online every day!. That’s crazy, but it’s reality and it’s going to be the trend for at least the foreseeable future. Young generations are being born into this reality. Older generations have been adopting the routine for years.

It’s here. It’s not good or bad. It’s real.

If you want your ecommerce store to see real results you need online marketing.

That means:

  • Facebook advertising
  • Social content publishing
  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Guesting

You don’t have to be an expert in any of those to begin. You can dip your toes into each and see what works. Once you see the data and results come in from a few months of experimenting, you’ll likely find one or two that work well.

Then go all in on those and keep experimenting with others and new ones that come along.

How To Begin

Shopify offers a great solution for creating an online store. They make it easy to begin and they also offer a number of vetted designers and developers that can help get you setup.

There are others similar to Shopify as well such as Bigcommerce.

Final Thoughts

Ecommerce is the way the future is going. We’ve been talking about it for two decades now. But that has only gotten us to 16% of total retail sales.

The next two decades will see drastically more change. I saw it occur in the catalog world. The end was predicted with the rise of online commerce. But that didn’t happen right away.

Generations don’t quickly change their ways. The Silent Generation and Baby Boomer generation bought through catalogs and in stores. That won’t change unless something drastic occurs.

But younger generations are all about online. The change is coming as the generations age.

Even for local businesses.

Dayne Shuda
Dayne Shuda
Dad, husband, golfer, and bow hunter. Owner of Ghost Blog Writers.