How small and medium-sized businesses can survive and win in a world that always wants more
There was a time not long ago when you could walk to your neighborhood store to buy toilet paper. A bell would ring as you walked through the door, and you could expected a greeting from the store owner. You knew exactly what you needed and where it was located—it was all familiar. The owner, also the cashier, always remembered you. You would hand over your cash and, in return, there would be a receipt from a mechanical register printed and handed over. The entire experience was personal, simple, and convenient.
Selling Without Boundaries
Today, commerce looks much different. Walking to a store is no longer the most obvious choice. Consumers want the toilet paper on their doorstep without leaving the comfort of their couch and without paying a single penny more for it. From now on, there is no #omnichannel, #multichannel, or #ecommerce. It's all just COMMERCE. Here's how SMBs can adjust. #Unify @ParagMamnani Click To TweetThe neighborhood store from the 1970s and 80s—which was transformed into a mall in the 90s—has since been consolidated into a global marketplace accessible on a 5×3-inch screen. Now commerce consists of
- online marketplaces—Amazon, Jet, eBay, Rakuten, Alibaba, Etsy
- tablet POS systems – Square, Lightspeed
- social shopping—Instagram, Facebook
- virtual reality—Alibaba and many others in development
- digital wallets—Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, PayPal
- voice-controlled devices—Alexa, Siri, Google
- same-day delivery—Amazon, Google Shopping
In an instant, customers can see reviews, compare prices, check availability, customize orders, personalize products, and buy it all from stores located anywhere in the world with just a tap on their device.
No Looking Back
From now on, the future of buying and selling is borderless, seamless, voice-driven, personalized, artificially intelligent, and automated. There is no omnichannel, there is no ecommerce—now it’s all just “commerce.” Consumers expect to find the best-rated items, at the best price, always in stock, shipped immediately from anywhere in the world, delivered on time, and easy to return from any interface—laptop, tablet, mobile phone, or virtual assistant.
So what does this mean for small and medium-sized businesses? How will they survive when the demands of consumers continue to increase while margins decline? How will they adapt to the blurring lines between online and offline? How will they sell everywhere, all the time, to anyone around the world? The answer is technology.
Speed and Creativity Wins
Going forward, small businesses will use powerful integrated tools to automate their operations that will streamline product listings, manage multichannel inventory, speed up shipping, work with vendors, sync and track accounting and sales tax, and much more. They’ll also be strategic about their data and use analytics to deliver on consumer expectations without disappearing their profit margins. They’ll gather cross-channel data intelligence to power their business growth and maximize profits. Commerce of the future will not be stuck in busy work, data entry, or spreadsheets—it will move at light speed with technology and data.
Small businesses will also thrive by innovating creative products and personalized experiences. We will not exist in a cookie-cutter world with a handful of brands. We will continue to see the rise of engaged, passionate entrepreneurs who building unique products with global appeal and differentiation. We’re already seeing this creative revolution with the rise of Etsy and Reverb and with incredibly disruptive new selling models like Dollar Shave Club and Cratejoy.
We tell scary stories about Amazon and Alibaba taking over all of the world’s commerce, but I assure you, those are just stories. Yes, the giants will continue to take a bigger slice of the commerce pie, but technology will help small and medium-sized businesses use their creativity, speed, and spirit to gain a competitive edge and win.
It’s time to take control, and put the right technology to work.READ: HIGHER PROFITS WITH AUTOMATION