Business > Merchant Voice

Local consumers are your next online customers

In normal years, January and February is the time to review the just-completed holiday sales and look for ways to improve. But not much is normal about the last three months. Instead, look ahead.

Covid-19 has changed the world. It will never entirely go back to the way it was. More people will work from home, order online, stay local, and travel less. These are opportunities for ecommerce companies.

The internet enables global reach — a huge potential customer base. But that huge potential has enticed many competitors. A growing number of online merchants compete for the same customers. Often the only difference is price, which creates the dual problem of rising marketing costs and lower profits.

Moreover, serving distant customers creates shipping headaches, as merchants surely know.

What if you had more local customers?

Local Benefits

Consider search engine optimization. It’s much easier to obtain high organic rankings in local search. There is far less competition; with a little effort, you could see good results.

Delivering goods to local customers is much cheaper and easier. The risk of lost or damaged items is low. Local post and even your own delivery service are viable. Both would be relatively cheaper than national and international carriers.

As for customer service, you literally speak the same language as local consumers. You have the same accents, slang expressions, habits, and so on. Plus, the problems of local customers are often easier to solve. A broken item or a missing part is easily fixed: drop it off at the customer’s residence or ask him to pick it up.

Trust is among the biggest concerns of online shoppers. Can they trust the site to deliver the goods? Having a local address means that you stand by your customers. In the worst case, they only have to drive a reasonable distance to visit you and sort out their problem.

The pandemic has forced online buying on many consumers who had previously shopped in physical stores. Likely, few of your local brick-and-mortar competitors offer a meaningful online option. Thus experienced ecommerce merchants have a competitive advantage.

Focusing on local consumers introduces new forms of marketing. Posters, billboards, leaflets, even local radio and television — all are likely cheaper than internet advertising and possibly as effective. They also inject money into your community.

Consider, too, sponsoring a local team or group. It could increase your company’s goodwill and generate orders that are not based on price alone.

An Asset

In short, your company’s locale can be an asset. Your neighbors can be your best customers, and you, likewise, can be a good neighbor. It’s a win-win.

Richard Stubbings
Richard Stubbings
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