How the E-Commerce Wave Is Helping SMBs Increase Revenue

In 2020, many SMBs are finding that they either have to ride the e-commerce wave or drown as it passes over them. Customers around the world are quarantining and self-isolating at home. That means that brick-and-mortar businesses are scrambling to build an avenue for online sales, and SMBs that were already involved in e-commerce are hurrying to up their game.

For many of the small businesses that have stayed afloat so far, e-commerce has become the new focus. According to Software Advice, a quarter of brick-and-mortar retail businesses surveyed in June said they’ve already added an e-commerce channel to their operations this year. Retail SMBs either want a piece of the growing pie that is e-commerce sales in 2020, or they’ve realized they won’t survive without an online sales component.

Whatever the motivation, the uptick in e-commerce sales has set the stage for SMBs to start boosting their revenue. And to complement the current market conditions, the rise of no-code tools is making online retail success more accessible than ever to SMBs. These solutions are proving to be the surfboard that helps small businesses successfully ride that e-commerce wave.

The e-commerce explosion of 2020

The numbers show just how drastically e-commerce has grown this year, in large part because of the pandemic. Take Amazon, for starters. In Q2 alone, they earned $88.9B. That represents 40% year-on-year growth in net sales compared to 2019—even despite the extra costs they incurred implementing Covid-19 safety measures and expanding delivery capacity.

The retail giant’s success reflects the overall shift in consumer behavior since the beginning of quarantine measures. Independent assessments show the same. A June Accenture report found that even those who had never shopped online before started to do so because of the pandemic and that they plan to continue.

Unsurprisingly, these numbers and projections are attracting small and medium-sized businesses to e-commerce in droves. Plus, consider the fact the virus has depressed sales in most brick-and-mortar retail stores (a projected drop of 14% or more by December). It represents a sharp decrease in what had already been a downward trend for years. In fact, Yelp says that roughly half of the shopping and retail businesses on its platform that closed temporarily in March will never reopen. Those that will make it through are looking to e-commerce as their lifeline.

A trend that’s here to stay

Of course, creating a viable online sales channel isn’t a task that SMBs can tackle overnight. The good news: All signs point to the fact that it’ll be worth their while. A recent study shows that six in 10 consumers plan to continue buying online as much as they do now, even once the pandemic has passed. The massive shift toward e-commerce isn’t a fluke.

Even once a vaccine for the virus is available, it’s probable that this pandemic will have long-term effects on the consumer psyche and behavior. After the worst of it has passed, many people will likely still feel more comfortable ordering online rather than risking the trip to a crowded store. Besides, even more significantly, consumers will simply be accustomed to the convenience of internet shopping.

E-commerce is now more accessible than ever to SMBs

That’s right; it’s the rise of no-code technology that has made this so. Building a successful online retail presence does take work, but no-code solutions make it easier than it’s ever been—especially for small to medium-sized businesses.

No-code tools are exactly what they sound like: They don’t require an entire tech team or any special expertise to master. As a result, real e-commerce success is no longer an out-of-reach goal that only huge companies with deep pockets can achieve.

No-code tools for every step of the customer journey

It all starts at the beginning, with the actual e-commerce platform. Gone are the days when a small business would be shut out from online sales by the sheer cost of hiring an expert to code an e-commerce website for them. Now, no-code tools like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce let retailers get their sites up and running quickly, cheaply, and without any developer knowledge.

The next major task for e-commerce merchants is marketing. With digital ads, they can easily reach thousands and thousands of prospects. But the cost of having a large-enough team on hand 24/7 to answer their questions to close sales would quickly eat away at any profits. That’s why chatbots (and the no-code platforms for building them) are on the rise, too. A well-built chatbot can handle up to 80% of routine inquiries on its own, saving support staff time. They can even recommend products and send abandoned-cart reminders to help increase sales on autopilot.

And once an e-commerce shop wins a customer’s business, the next step is to get them to buy more. No-code tools like Fera.ai let brands display different forms of social proof on their website to increase cross-sells and upsells. No-code software like SMSBump lets brands send reminders and incentives to shoppers via text message to bring them back to the site. No-code email solutions like Mailchimp let brands automate messages about sales and discounts.

Riding the e-commerce wave

The coronavirus pandemic has sped up a shift to online commerce that’s been years in the making. SMBs are realizing that they’ll be left behind if they ignore the changes. Many of them are turning to no-code tools to build and scale an e-commerce element of their business to help future-proof it, no matter what the coming months may bring.

Billy Shipp is marketing expert at Chatfuel.

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