Small Business News: 9 December 2022

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson
Discover content team
3 min read
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This week’s Small Business News looks at the latest e-commerce news from around the world including shoppers’ main holiday concerns, and the start-up helping marketplace sellers personalize their storefronts.

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Speed and inventory should be central part of retailers’ holiday strategy

Slow deliveries and “out of stock” messages are two of the biggest concerns for online shoppers this holiday season. Digital Commerce 3601 surveyed consumers across the US, UK, France and Germany, and found nearly a third (29%) do not expect their holiday purchases to arrive in time, whilst 57% said they planned to check product availability before placing an order for delivery.

Being clear about their delivery cut off times is just one way retailers can reassure consumers, says Leendert Van Delft, VP Global Sales Programs at DHL Express. “During peak season, it is all about clear and open communication with your customers. There is no bigger disappointment than a late delivery after the holiday, so be transparent about which date you can guarantee the delivery by.”

With competition so fierce this peak season, what other tips do our experts have to help your business manage the rush? Find out here.

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Shopify trials new search feature

E-commerce platform Shopify is testing a feature that allows shoppers to search for items across all Shopify sellers for the first time.

Integrated within the company’s Shop app, the “Search for anything” box will link customers to products sold by Shopify merchants or items they previously purchased. This functionality moves the Shop app towards becoming a fully-fledged marketplace – previously customers could add items to a shopping cart and check out within the app but had no easy way of discovering brands.

There are over 4 million stores built on the platform2, and whilst the prospect of being more easily discoverable by customers may seem appealing to merchants, there could be the issue of whether they will have to start paying to appear first in search results.

“Current and former Shopify employees said it was unclear whether the company would ever roll it out to a wider audience, as internal debate continues about whether the feature would hurt merchants,” says Madeline Stone at Business Insider3. Watch this space…

woman wearing headset

Customer service: quality and quantity matter

British retailers are missing out on potential sales due to insufficient customer service hours, new research suggests. A survey by Salesupply UK found that over half (52%) of online stores close their customer care after 5pm4. Furthermore, 27% are only available during the daytime on Monday to Friday, meaning they lose the opportunity to engage with customers during the peak online sales hours of 7pm - 9pm.

“The importance of customer service in the pre-purchase phase is often underestimated. Online customers are impatient,” Jonathon Huggett, Business Development Manager at Salesupply UK said5. “When a question arises, they expect an answer right away. If customer service is not available at that moment, they will not hesitate and go to a competitor. Nowadays, an online store can no longer avoid offering customer service during evenings and weekends.”

On a more positive note, UK retailers are doing well on the number of channels they are contactable on – with an average of 2.6. Email was the most popular channel (used by 89%), followed by phone (86%). The use of chat – such as live agents – is also on the rise (43%), allowing brands to answer customers’ questions and make suggestions in real time.

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Popup helps marketplace merchants to differentiate storefronts

Giving customers personalized experiences is important for online retailers, but merchants selling through marketplaces such as Shopify are limited by their “one size fits all” approach to storefront templates. Enter Popup6.

The start-up offers small businesses the tools for the creation, management and hosting of online stores – without the need for coding. These tools cover everything from customer relationship management to email marketing.

“We allow you to build any type of online commerce experience that you need in a matter of seconds,” said Popup’s co-founder, Corey Holmes. “It’s just a drag-and-drop to be able to connect everything based on your business.”7

“Until now, merchants have been locked into one shape and style. With Popup, the control goes back to the creators to build a store as wild, unique and personal as them, their audience and their customers,” a company statement said8.

Merchants pay a monthly subscription to use the platform, but have the first 30 days for free.

Christmas items on a table

And finally…

This holiday season, don’t forget to give your festive packaging some extra sparkle. Videos with the “unboxing” hashtag have over 1.2 billion views on TikTok9. Here’s how to give your customers a magical gifting experience – you may even go viral!

1 - Digital Commerce 360, December 2022

2 - Search Engine Land, December 2022

3 - Madeline Stone, Search Engine Land, December 2022

4 - Salesupply survey, Ecommerce News Europe, December 2022

5 - Jonathon Huggett, Ecommerce News Europe, December 2022

6 & 8 - Popup

7 - Corey Holmes, TechCrunch, November 2022

9 - TikTok Hashtags, accessed December 2022