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The importance of e-commerce and online marketplaces for SMMEs

Article provided by Telkom

E-commerce platforms and online marketplaces have grown exponentially over the years, and this growth has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the brick-and-mortar stores still remain, consumers are rapidly moving to online platforms to purchase goods and services.

Online marketplaces and e-commerce platforms enable small and medium businesses to sell their goods and services on large platforms such as Amazon or more niche ones that cater for a specific service or product. Such platforms act as the middleman between the businesses and customers through facilitating transactions and also providing more variety for customers, allowing them to compare prices. About 62% of the $4.29 trillion in global e-commerce sales in 2020 was spent on the Top 100 online marketplaces.

On the back of the pandemic, e-commerce and online marketplace platforms will continue to grow in South Africa and small and medium businesses can expect to benefit immensely from this growth. First National Bank estimates that e-commerce in South Africa will be valued at R225 billion by 2025.

Elevating SMMEs through e-commerce and online marketplaces

The greatest advantage for SMMEs using e-commerce platforms and online marketplaces is that such channels have no geographical limitations which means that businesses are able to reach a customer base beyond their physical location. E-commerce platforms are good way for small businesses to expand their reach and optimise their brand. This also creates new revenue opportunities as businesses can now cater to a larger market. Online marketplaces provide SMMEs with an opportunity to market and sell their products and services on a wider channel. Using an online marketplace allows businesses to cut down on costs such as rent and maintaining the physical location.

Building online presence

Through online platforms, businesses are able to connect with consumers on a larger scale through search engine traffic. Since the business is already on an e-commerce platform or marketplace, this can easily generate search engine traffic bringing more visitors on to their website. Search engine traffic creates room for businesses to cut down on the costs of marketing their products or services. For example, Yep! has an All-In-One website builder solution that helps businesses to build a website, register their domain, and take care of the webhosting. Through platforms such as Yep! business owners can also get a self-editing blog where they can publish their own content which will help them market their business better. Such solutions also include e-commerce features such as a shopping cart and payment method, along with customer engagement tools such as e-mail and SMS. Claim your free website and free lead generation solution from Telkom Business and Yep! here.

By using an online marketplace or e-commerce platform, businesses can save on advertising costs as they can use the platforms and their website to market the business. A website also provides businesses with an opportunity to make sales online, meaning that they have an additional channel to sell their goods and services beyond the physical location. This opens up an opportunity for a different revenue channel.

Using a major e-commerce or online marketplace platform to sell their goods and services can allow businesses to increase their visibility through lead generation tools. Increasing a business’ online visibility is crucial in terms of helping a business to thrive in the digital economy. Online marketplaces such as Yep! have lead generation solutions that allow business owners to expand their business online.

This solution uses technology across the online sales funnel to build a business’ brand online. Through the integrated solution, businesses can experience an effective, transaction-focused, online presence across multiple touchpoints. Through such solutions, a business can be seen by potential customers who are searching for similar products and services. A solution such as the All-in-One targeted campaigns use Google AdWords, online banners, and Facebook content to ensure your business reaches the right audience at the right time.

Evolving the customer experience

Going digital not only presents a multitude of marketing opportunities for SMMEs but it also helps them to improve the overall customer experience. Through the use of web analytics businesses are able to understand their customers better, creating a more personalised experience for consumers. By having a website, businesses are able to enhance their accessibility as services and products are now available beyond normal businesses hours.

A website allows business owners to better manage customer service including responding to queries and providing relevant information about the products and services. This allows businesses to spend less time answering common queries and more time doing more complicated tasks. Online presence also provides businesses with an opportunity to increase their credibility as an organisation. Before purchasing a product or service, customers will usually search for a website that offers that particular product or service. Having a website makes customers feel comfortable with using your product as there is sufficient information on the site.

The rise of new technology trends will play a crucial role in terms of evolving e-commerce and online marketplaces, creating more opportunities for SMMEs to thrive in the digital economy and improve the overall customer experience. Online marketplaces and e-commerce platforms use data analytics to create onsite personalisation to enhance the customer experience. Some online platforms also use Augmented Reality (AR) which allows consumers to view and interact with the products as if the products were in their hands or in their home.

As a champion of the SMME, Telkom Business is committed to helping businesses to successfully adapt to the digital economy. One of its innovations is Yep! is an online marketplace that allows consumers to book, buy and bid services from small businesses. Through the Yep! App users can access an array of services, request quotes from multiple businesses and book appointments. The services available on Yep! include home building, cleaning services, security systems, plumbing services, and medical centres etc.

An NSBC survey 2021, revealed that 41% of SMEs believe that they should have focused on marketing of their business in 2020 – 2021. Let us help you increase your businesses online visibility – click here for more information and claim your free website as well as lead generation solution today.

Telkom is a proud Partner of the NSBC