How Your Small Company Can Deliver Big Wins This Holiday With a Big Business Strategy
By Amit Mathradas
In the ever-expanding holiday shopping season, expectations and demand of consumers have changed. Regardless of the size of your company, your customers expect that their shopping experience will be as seamless as those offered by big companies. To succeed and grow, your small company has to always look and behave like your competitors – large and small. Some of the unique challenges small businesses face today are online commerce and payments, branding and marketing, selling internationally, and customer service.
So how can your small business look like the big guys during the holidays? To look big, you have to act big. And to act big, you have to invest time and resources in the latest tools and practices to emulate what larger corporations are doing. Fortunately, there are a many things your business can execute on now to help overcome some of the inherent challenges of being a small business competing with big businesses during the holidays.
Here are a few key areas to ‘look big’:
Your Online Presence. If you are selling online, your e-commerce platform needs to look as good as the largest online retailer. Or at the very least, your website needs to look as if it was not launched yesterday.
These days you can create a modern, professional website and e-commerce platform that incorporates speed, design and mobile optimization – all for a fraction of what it used to cost just a few years ago. It is important to ensure that all content is consistent everywhere, particularly on social media, for your customers during the holidays.
Invest in branding. If you look at any big company, the look and feel of all of their online and offline properties are consistent – from their website to their ecommerce platform to their social media assets down to their stationery, business cards, and paperwork. That’s what the big companies do. And that’s what small firms who want to compete with big companies should do.
If you don’t have a logo, get one. Or if your logo looks woefully out of date it may be time for an upgrade. Hire a marketing consultant or a designer from freelancing sites or sign up with companies who can provide you with a one-stop branding solution. Having your company represented strongly will have an impact during the busy holiday season.
Choose a scalable platform with a trusted payments partner. You will want to incorporate a secure and reliable payment and processing option to speed up your customers’ experience and complete transactions quickly. For the holidays, speed and trust is critical. PayPal helps small businesses process transactions for their customers, anywhere, anytime and anyway they want to pay – credit and debit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, Venmo, Bitcoin – through a Braintree integration. These days it doesn’t matter whether consumers are transacting online, in a mobile application, in a physical store or in an entirely new context. Trust, flexibility and scalability are huge factors as small businesses grow.
SEO, you must get found online. Big companies invest heavily to get their websites found online, and even more so during the holidays. Having a budget for SEO (search engine optimization) and Google AdWords is “a must” for anyone selling online. Start small and focused and see what gets you the most clicks. Increase your spending slowly and always watch your conversion cost (that’s the number of leads you get based on the money you’re spending).
Expand your market by selling overseas – tap these resources – including PayPal PassPort – There are many resources at your disposal when looking to expand your business overseas, including in advance of the holidays. For example, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has an excellent electronic guide to selling products overseas which answers questions about taxes, duties, customs laws, and more. The federally backed Business USA portal is full of great information on how to begin and grow your exporting business as well as a current listing of U.S. export centers and trade events going on all over the country. The Small Business Administration has a helpful export business planner.
And lastly, customer service is critical. To compete against the big guys, customer service operations have to be top notch. It is important to invest in this critical area – well in advance of the holidays. There are a few ways you can help do this. You can create a toll-free number on a hosted, automated phone system which then prompts customers with choices and a dial by name directory–calls are immediately routed to the right person. You can ensure your website is up to date and mobile optimized with important and current information about your company.
You can act big, but still be small.
Amit Mathradas is Senior Director and General Manager of PayPal’s North American Online Small Business unit. Before joining PayPal, Amit was Senior Vice President and GM at Web.com.