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2017: The Year of Death to Small Business Ecommerce Sites

It’s a cutthroat online world out there, and it’s especially true for small ecommerce sites. Our Seattle internet marketing team sees it all the time. Ecommerce giants continue to define the entire online shopping industry, making it extremely difficult for the smaller businesses trying to establish their own Ecommerce platform to keep their heads above water. The bad news for these smaller players – industry experts forecast that the market is not going to get any kinder to them. We’ve actually found that there is really no point in operating your own small-scale platform - that is, unless you can keep up with the features and functionality of large scale e-tailers. Here’s where most small business Ecommerce platforms fall short:

Poor Marketing

An effective marketing plan for an online store requires a multi-faceted approach. Of course, traditional online marketing methods aimed at generated traffic are always on the table, but in today’s online shopping arena, you need to pull out all the stops. Remarketing is one strategy that is becoming more and more essential if you plan to succeed in the online retail space. But, many small business ecommerce sites don’t have the know-how to implement a successful remarketing campaign Remarketing works to connect your brand and products to potential customers. How exactly does it work?

  1. Remarketing lists with specific consumer criteria are created
  2. A new visitor goes to your website
  3. The visitor is cookied and their ID is attributed to a specific remarketing list
  4. Websites that the visitor subsequently goes to will have targeted ads for your business

It’s a simple, cost-effective strategy, and one that e-tailer giants are wise to take advantage of.

Of course, there are other methods of marketing and generating traffic and interest in your ecommerce site, but ad retargeting is just one emblematic example of ways in which small business ecommerce platforms fail to take advantage of all the tools available.

Small Ecommerce Sites and the Reviews Problem

Consumers love to be heard. In fact, they’ve gotten to the point where they feel they deserve to be heard. Websites like Amazon and Overstock give customers the ability to express their opinions to large audiences. Without an arsenal of service and product reviews, an ecommerce site is not going to get the attention it needs. The proof is in the pudding:

  • 90 percent of consumers depend on online reviews to vet a business
  • More than 30 percent of consumers will read up to six reviews on a product/company before purchasing
  • Over 70 percent of shoppers are motivated to take the plunge only after reading a good review

Small business Ecommerce sites often lack the functionality to leave and read through reviews on products, which evidently causes them to lose out on tons of business.

Poor Interface and User Experience

Let’s face it - the leading e-tailers are dominating the market because they have the resources and manpower to constantly develop their platforms, and sharpen their interfaces and user experiences to allow for quicker, easier check out. User interface refers to the body of design elements that allow the user to interact with a site, while the experience is the feeling the user gets during the interaction. And, the two are not mutually exclusive - both aspects have to be spot-on and work in tandem.

Small ecommerce sites that have less-advanced platforms tend to have poorly designed, clunky interfaces that certainly leave customers wanting for a better experience. Obviously, this can create a problem for products and brands. A potential customer will leave a website and never return if they become frustrated by the inability to easily navigate and connect with it.

Inventory Management Difficulties

Small businesses rarely have the ability to integrate their ecommerce platform with an ERP system for inventory management. You can probably imagine why a company’s productivity would take a hit in this situation! Ecommerce platforms that don’t allow for proper ERP integration can make it extremely difficult for businesses to track inventory turnover, depletion and surplus.

If you’re not automating inventory management through an effective ERP/CMS integration, then there is truly no point in having an Ecommerce Site. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, and to sell products online, your weakest link cannot be inventory management.

Tips for Moving Forward With an Ecommerce Site

Ok, enough of the grim details. If you’re struggling to get your own Small business Ecommerce site off the ground, then all of the drawbacks we just listed are probably not news to use.

So, if you’re deadset on establishing and running your own Ecommerce platform, here are some crucial tips to help you make the most of it:

  • Go all in or don’t bother

    • Choose a robust, cutting-edge ecommerce platform that includes the apps and software that will optimize your processes for you. Otherwise, you’re just going to make your life harder.
  • Provide optimal shipping options

    • The big guys often offer free, fast product delivery. You should do the same. Consider free or $2.99 shipping options at most. And, make sure it’s same day or next day shipping. Any longer than that, and you’re moving towards irrelevance when compared with large scale e-tailers.
  • Use a data feed

    • Your data feed is a file with details of your products. It synchronizes your product data with various systems, including inventory management, ad retargeting, and your CMS, to ensure that each user is always looking at accurate, relevant product information.
  • Get products in niche e-tailers

    • It’s hard to stand out if you’re selling products that everyone else is. If you target consumers with specific needs, you’re differentiating yourself. It’s a great way to build a loyal customer base, and it’s also great because you’re selling products on a different e-tailer site that you don’t have to manage.
  • Develop a plan for retaining customers

    • Don’t just focus on new customers. Try to develop an ongoing relationship with previous customers. Loyalty discounts are hugely important; offer users discount codes via newsletters and social media, and host sales and special events frequently.


At Bonsai Media, we understand how vital good ecommerce platforms can be to small businesses with great products. As a full-service Seattle internet marketing firm, we’ve helped many companies implement and manage online marketplaces, and we can help you too. And, of course, we handle a whole host of other design, development and marketing needs as well.

Let Bonsai help you grow your business online! Get in touch!

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