Boosting your SME B2C Sales: Practical Strategies for UK Retail Business Owners
B2C-facing retail SMEs are in an awkward position in terms of online sales. With the market dominated by huge marketplaces, national chain businesses, supermarkets, and aggregator sites – including Amazon, ASOS, and John Lewis, it’s becoming more challenging for small independent retailers to stand out and achieve sales growth. You’ll never be able to outcompete these larger businesses in terms of their budget and sheer online footprint, but by focusing on smaller and more practical ways of increasing your visibility and accessibility to customers, you’ll be able to carve out a successful and profitable niche.
Technique one: sell on multiple channels
As an independent e-commerce retailer, one of the first strategies to adopt is to sell your products through multiple channels, including your website, but also extending to Amazon, Etsy, and eBay, among others as appropriate – this approach to sales cuts across industry trends and ensures maximum visibility for your products. By doing this, you can expand your marketplace presence, secure a wider reach, and increase brand awareness among your customers. You’ll want to ensure your product listings all have regular updates, including stock availability and accurate prices, to prevent any issues, disappointments, or customer complaints.
Technique two: offer multiple payment options
Customers are now used to having several payment options when purchasing online and are sometimes hesitant to purchase from an independent shop if the business owner doesn’t offer varied payment options. You may not be in a position to offer every payment option, so it’s important to focus on the payment methods that your target customers prefer, which may be debit card, PayPal, Klarna, Apple Pay, and so on. Having a choice of payment options may increase your customer’s likelihood of making a purchase on the spot and improve customer confidence and convenience.
Technique three: create attractive personalised promotions and discounts
Promotions and discounts are a perennially effective way to attract new customers, encourage repeat purchases from existing customers, and expand your number of referrals. Many B2C customers now expect generous promotions and discounts around Black Friday, Christmas, and changes of season, but you could also diversify your business through special offers to coincide with new product launches, your business anniversary, or even your email subscriber’s birthdays (if you know this) to increase sales and boost customer engagement. Incentives for first purchases are also a good strategy, e.g. a 10% discount for first-time customers, discounts if they refer a friend, offer giveaways, or bundles of various products to make the customer feel like they’re getting a good deal.
Technique four: promote your products and campaigns on social media
Social media marketing is hugely important for B2C retailers, allowing you to reach potentially huge audiences with relatively little effort, without the difficulty and expense of trying to outmanoeuvre your larger and better funded competitors on the search engines. Customers often actively use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to seek out ‘off the beaten track’ deals from independent retailers, so you can often leverage good returns from paid social media advertising. You also have the chance to interact with customers for free, showcasing your products with appealing imagery and supporting content, and posting links to exclusive deals, offers, reviews, and testimonials.
Technique five: focus on customer experience
One of the ways in which independent B2C retailers can stand out from the giants of the sector is through the customer experience. The customer service offered by the e-commerce giants is notoriously automated and impersonal, so by implementing various human-driven customer support channels such as live website chat and an accessible phone number, you can help your business to stand out as one that offers a personal touch, and that responds to communications quickly and efficiently. Personalised emails, newsletters, and thank you messages can also help to strengthen your customer experience, letting your customers know that they are valued and encouraging repeat purchases.
Image Source: Canva