Many people try to support small, locally owned businesses when they do their holiday shopping, thanks in part to events like Small Business Saturday. But on Cyber Monday—and throughout the holiday season—shopping at small online businesses also can make a big difference.
E-commerce software provider Volusion recently predicted that small and mid-sized online retailers would see 20-percent growth this holiday season based on sales data of its merchants from the first half of 2013. Small businesses can encourage their customers to support "digital mom and pops," which often struggle to stand out among the crowd of major retailers competing online, by educating them on how to be more conscientious digital shoppers.
1. Look beyond Google page rankings. Chances are, when customers type product names into Google, major retailers’ listings will show up at the top of the page rankings. That's because they spend millions of dollars on paid search ads and search-engine optimization. But encouraging them to be more specific with their search terms (including adding brand names) and scanning deeper into the search results (even looking as far as page three or four) can help customers can turn up smaller online retailers who sell the same items.
2. Check out Amazon. Small-business owners have a love-hate relationship with Amazon. On one hand, it’s a gigantic company not unlike big-box retailers such as Target or Wal-Mart. Yet it’s also a marketplace where small businesses can build a virtual storefront and get access to the millions of people who browse Amazon.com every day. Tell customers that they should click on the “Used & New” link on a product page to see the full list of vendors selling that item through Amazon.
3. Sign up for “flash-sale” sites. Many “daily deal” or “flash-sale” sites, such as Zulily, Living Social and The Grommet, focus on providing deals and discounts from small online businesses. These sites differentiate themselves by introducing shoppers to unique products from small businesses that major retailers don’t carry.
4. Bookmark small online retailers you like. When a customer comes across a small online retailer they like or have a good customer experience with, they should bookmark it and even consider signing up for its email list. This will help ensure they don’t forget about it next time their shopping online.
Read more articles on online shopping.