Family-owned businesses were constantly steam-rolled again and again by the all-powerful corporate conglomerates in the 1980s and 90s. These big-box shops were able to offer a wider variety of goods to their customers at a lower price, and their size enabled them to steamroll the smaller and more specialized businesses. Just think, if you had the choice between Starbucks or a shop called “Jim’s Beans,” chances are you drove right past the Beans for the Bucks.
In recent years, however, a quiet revolution has begun to occur. Large companies, no longer able to sustain their growth and too bulky to adapt to changes in the economy and consumer needs, have begun to lose their footing. As a result, small mom-and-pop businesses are taking advantage of the opening and have once more started to earn prominence.
This “rebirth” has all become a reality thanks to a little thing we all know and love: the Internet. With the growth of online stores, entrepreneurs are able to virtually market their goods all over the country. This increased visibility has led to some small online start-ups becoming extremely successful.
So how is the Internet acting as an almighty equalizing power?
— For one, low overhead cost. Having your store online is far less expensive than operating the full-on brick-and-mortar home front. And, if necessary to choose one over the other, it’s possible operate the wired store with fewer employees. This enables these business owners to hold tighter profit margins and be more nimble in their pricing strategies.
— Personal discovery. More often than not, a consumer will search the web for ideas on what to buy before romping around the streets to shop. With an easy-to-navigate site advertising your goods, marketing the products in your store is not only manageable; it’s easier. This is especially true of specialized businesses. Specific goods occupying certain niches are easy to search for and thrive on the Internet.
— Reaching out to buyers. Gone are the days where small businesses can only cater to the locals. Before marketing through the Internet became possible, the power companies that owned distribution channels were conclusively the most successful. This is no more! With online shopping, the web makes it possible to market products to consumers around the world.
— Marketing personality. While selling to buyers across the country may seem impersonal, the Internet has created an answer for that as well. A cozy, interactive atmosphere is maintained through social media outlets. Business owners can communicate directly with consumers through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, you name it! This encourages interaction, and participation which helps to foster customer loyalty and relationships that big-box companies can’t compete with.
While an online strategy is beneficial to pursuing growth, what consumers most want to see is diversity. A street-side store has to focus on making a bigger presence online, while strictly online stores are beginning to develop more physical locations. With diversity comes the ability to reach as many interested customers as possible. Technology is constantly changing and improving, therefore; it’s important for small business owners to stay on top of trends and continue growth.