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Small Business Week Special: Three Tips for SMB Ecommerce Success in 2023

Not even halfway into 2023, the ecommerce retail landscape has been defined by one word: savings. Inflation has a defining role in ecommerce this year, prompting both merchants and consumers to remain committed to a cost-saving mindset. 

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This year, ecommerce will remain a vital channel for consumers to hunt for the best deals across multiple brands and platforms. Data from ShipStation found that 23% of consumers expect to shop online more this year than they have in the past.

What’s more, the report found that 81% of consumers will strive to shop with small businesses in 2023, with 35% voicing a willingness to pay more to support smaller retailers. 

Online shopping remains strong this year, and the pressure is on for retailers of all sizes to wow consumers or risk losing repeat business, all while keeping their own costs down.

With a special focus on small business merchants, we’ll outline three ways they can adapt to the latest consumer demands and grow their businesses, without having to reinvent their processes.

Optimize Free Shipping Offerings

Shipping costs are one of the biggest deciding factors for where consumers shop online. ShipStation’s study found that 61% of consumers are less likely to shop with a brand if their delivery fees are too high. However, not every small business can offer free shipping.

To counteract the costs of offering entirely free shipping, SMBs should consider a threshold approach. Threshold shipping allows customers to access free shipping from a brand if they place an order above a certain spend.

This can help get another item added to customers’ carts, especially if merchants advertise products that fill in the gap during checkout. 

Rethink Returns Policies

A good return policy is critical for small ecommerce businesses to scale. Seamless returns make consumers more likely to purchase from a brand, and a simple and effective returns policy can elevate consumers’ overall perception of a brand.

In fact, data found that 44% of shoppers are less likely to shop with a brand that has a cumbersome or difficult returns process. To make returns a conversion factor, SMBs should start with the most basic aspect – the time frame, or the specific number of days a consumer has to return their order from the time it’s received. Commonly, brands like to clock in returns at around 14 to 30 days.

However, to elevate the returns experience, SMBs should consider offering longer return windows – especially during the holiday season, when promotions tend to begin in the early fall. Next, a return policy that isn’t well-defined or showcased on a brand’s website can lead to cart abandonment.

Whether or not a consumer plans to make a return, they tend to prefer shopping from merchants with a robust and plainly stated return policy. Without that confidence, customers are hesitant to make purchases altogether.

So, when rethinking a returns policy, SMBs should make sure transparency is at its core. 

Balance Shipping Costs and Speeds

Calculating shipping costs is a process that every SMB knows well. Managing shipping costs while meeting expected delivery timelines is a critical balancing act.

However, in 2023, ShipStation data shows that to consumers, a preferable delivery cost was twice as popular as a faster delivery speed. When choosing carriers, merchants have a similar sentiment – 68% say shipping rates are their biggest deciding factor.

Consumers are more patient in 2023; however, for SMBs, the most cost-effective shipping option doesn’t have to mean using the slowest option.

For example, optimizing packing to reduce damages while minimizing weight can help lower overall shipping rates. By simply prioritizing using the right type and size of parcel for an order, a small business can save on both actual and dimensional weight costs.

Leveraging micro-fulfillment across multiple geographies with customer demand can also help decrease shipping costs by reducing travel distance. 

You don’t have to be a big player in the retail space to implement cost-saving strategies while still meeting consumers’ expectations.

As ecommerce continues to evolve, the SMBs that provide top-notch customer experiences will stand out in 2023 –  and that doesn’t require reinventing the wheel.

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This article is a part of our Leadership Series, which features industry experts sharing valuable insights for small business owners who sell online. The opinions expressed in this contribution are solely those of the author(s).

One Comment

  1. Cynthia LaRue says:

    Such great information for small business owners in the e-commerce space!

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