You’re a tiny business in a landscape of giants, setting up shop next to bulking behemoths like Tesco and Amazon, the type of companies who will happily consume SMEs to stay on the right side of monopolisation.
And if you’re setting up online, then the situation can be more difficult. As opposed to the relatively small number of competitors on the high street, the internet has a cast of millions. Fending off Amazon is like David battling Goliath with two arms behind his back and his catapult chopped into firewood.
But don’t let a miasma of despair shut your business. There are ways to survive the murky waters of the online business world. Here are just a few.
Delivery is key
Behind every good internet business is a delivery service doing their bidding. But so many delivery companies are flat out awful.
You’re told to wait between 9am Monday and 10pm Friday for your package to arrive, so you stock up on food and sit indoors for four days, until you find a note posted through you letter box stating, “Sorry we missed you! Will try again within the decade!”
But smaller companies can’t rely on that level of service (or lack thereof). As Amazon prepares to pre-empt delivery before you’ve even purchased it, you’ll have to raise your game. Find an international courier you can trust and use them for all deliveries.
Top of the pile
The average user of Google will only look at the first three results on any given search, before giving up and moving on. So how can you boost yourself to the feted top three of your search results?
The trick lies in using search engine optimisation (SEO) to show Google you’re the right site for the job. Use the right keywords and phrases at regular intervals to optimise your site, and hire a company to refine your search terms and create the perfect relationship between your site and Google’s many algorithms.
The need for speed
Here’s a worrying fact about our dwindling attention spans – the average internet user will wait for a mere four seconds for a page to load before closing it. Four seconds! It makes goldfish look like they’ve got the memory of an elephant.
But, as we veer from laptops to tablets to smartphones (sometimes using all three at once), we’ll still remember the company that took too long to reply to a query.
Online customers expect a service on par with their local shop, so replying as rapidly as possible is key.
Hire someone dedicated to customer service or, if you can’t afford a new employee, set your Blackberry up to alert you to queries immediately. After which, respond as quickly as you can.
To think of it another way, the longer you dilly dally on an inquiry, the longer you’re deferring a sale. So, if you want the coin to continue, make your response times snappy and polite.