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3 key facts to help you get the edge on the competition

You know the feeling. That sneaking suspicion that you’re barely breaking even on sales this quarter. No small business owner likes that, and with all the competition out there, turning a profit means you have to really hone in on consumer shopping behavior to put a little cushion between you and your bottom line.

We recently published our 3rd annual Small Business Payments Spotlight, and it’s jam packed with useful tidbits that can help you get ahead. Let’s dig into three key stats to uncover what you can do to improve your business.


42% of consumers think shipping costs are too high on small business websites

Before we unpack this stat, we’re obliged to say that if you’re not selling online in either a marketplace or on your own website, you’re missing out. Over 50% of small businesses have a website that takes payments, so you should definitely consider the possible benefits for your business.1

Now, if you do sell online, the unfortunate reality is that online giants like Amazon and Walmart have spoiled shoppers when it comes to shipping costs. They’re driving costs through the floor, and customers are happy to accept the new reality of “free” shipping.

There are a few things you can do to keep up:

  • Consider pre-paid shipping and use carrier packaging. This can help reduce shipping costs if you can group products into standard weights and dimensions, and if you can easily predict shipping volume.
  • Convince your suppliers to ship your orders on the same account that you use to ship to your customers. By doing this, you can essentially double your shipping volume, since all the shipping you receive and send out are on the same account. Higher volume on one account can help reduce costs.
  • Test incorporating basic shipping into the cost of your online products. While customers are usually very price sensitive, it might be helpful to see how they respond when shipping is not an added expense, but included in the initial sale price.
  • Implement buy online, pick up in store. This is especially helpful for creating loyalty with local customers. Keep your base happy!

17% of consumers say they won’t make a purchase if they can’t pay the way they want

Can you afford to lose 1 out of 6 customers? That’s a tough loss because you essentially already made the sale – but payment options got in the way.

The good news is it’s fairly easy to diversify your payment acceptance. By accepting a range of card types, from debit to credit (across all card brands), and even diving into mobile wallet acceptance, you can satisfy the vast majority of consumers at the point of sale.

In some cases, it’s as simple as working with your merchant services provider to enable additional payment types on your existing equipment. But depending on your technology, you may need to consider upgrading your system.


50% of consumers say they won’t shop at a small business if it has negative online reviews

That means every other potential customer will pass you by just because of other people's bad experiences at your store. It’s very, very important to recognize the impact online reviews have on your business. Consider some questions:

  • Where do your new customers come from? If you’re located in a window-shopping district, online reviews might not impact you as much as when customers have to deliberately seek you out.
  • Are reviews important for your industry? If you're a restaurant, they’re important. Sites like Yelp® and OpenTable® are critical for drumming up business. Professional services are also relying on online reviews more and more, with sites like LegalZoom® and HomeAdvisor® becoming a staple for consumers.
  • Are most of your customers repeat or new? New customers are more likely to research you online before visiting, whereas repeat customers already know what’s in store for them.
  • Do you serve younger or older demographics? You could have probably guessed that younger customers are more likely to both check and leave reviews. Also keep in mind that bad experiences get more attention that good ones, since 30% of consumers younger than 30 only leave reviews after a bad experience.1
  • How is your online customer experience? If your goal is top-notch customer experience, you should also look at your online presence with a fine-tooth comb. Everything should align perfectly: in-store, online, over the phone and whatever other channels you use to reach customers.  Read "Tips for an effective eCommerce website" about improving your online customer experience.

Once you evaluate the importance of online reviews to your business, the next step is doing something about it. Start by taking stock of any and all reviews you currently have out there. Read “Tackle negative online reviews with these 7 steps” if you find any feedback you think could be hurting your business.

Download the full Small Business Payments Spotlight for even more stats and insights.


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