Online Competition And Your Small Business

600 votes

Times change, and your business must innovate and change with those change the times. The other day, I was talking to an individual at the local coffee shop. He ran a specialty shop and had catalogs he sent out and he was well-known in his industry. He did telemarketing sales, had catalogs, and did a tremendous amount of marketing. He was the go to guy for his particular business niche. He told me that he retired about 15 years ago, and he was very glad to get out when he did. He explained to me that the "information highway" as it was called back then had competition popping up all over the place.

It didn't matter that he had an incredible amount of experience, the best products, or a huge customer list. Soon his customers were asking him to match price with those online. Some of those that had websites were offering products they didn't even have, that only he made, and then they would try to place large orders with him, and sell those products to his former customers online. He said it was getting a little crazy, so he sold his business. The business she sold is no longer around, the new owner merged it with a dot com around the year 2000 just prior to the crash.

Apparently the individual he sold to also made money, but not from selling products, rather from selling the business. Fast-forward to today, and you must understand if you have a small business you are competing with online businesses that may have little or no cost, and you are competing while you still have to pay for the inventory, your location, and everything that goes with running a brick-and-mortar store, all the while your competition doesn't have any of those reoccurring obligations and costs.

Often, you are buying from the same supplier at the same price, but your costs are higher, therefore you get into a price war you just can't compete. There is a way to compete however, and there are many products in which the people want to actually see before they take delivery of it, thus the justification for a real store, they don't wish to go online and buy something because they don't trust it. Still, even though there are good reasons not to trust online venues as a consumer, more and more customers are taking that risk, it is making it harder and harder for many brick-and-mortar small businesses to compete.

Some say if you can't beat them you should join them, and perhaps that's my advice to you. Perhaps you should have an extra room in your business just for online sales along with whatever you are doing already. Rather than complaining about "who stole your cheese" maybe it's time to realize that the world has changed and it's time for you to change with it. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.