Originally posted in the Orlando Business Journal
Jul 27, 2017, 2:08pm EDT
Speedy service and unique offerings are critical for small businesses that want to compete with an e-commerce giant.
More small business owners in the retail industry are rethinking how they move products, and technology is a big reason why.
With e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. being crowned as the largest retailer with competitive prices, product ratings from peers and speedy service, it’s giving brick-and-mortar retailers a run for their money — forcing some to close up shop and exclusively sell their product online. That may be smart move, too, as more than 60 percent of U.S. consumers make most of their purchases online, according to Wipro Digital Research.
In fact, more businesses are buying warehouse space to store inventory, which is bringing big business to an Orlando-based commercial capital firm. “We’ve financed north of $35 million of projects for small warehouse space across the country,” said Chris Hurn, founder and CEO of national commercial lender Fountainhead Commercial Capital, a firm that specializes in small business loans. Hurn projects that his firm will do $50 million-$60 million this year in financing business loans for warehouse space.
But it takes more than just stocked inventory and posting images of products on a website to lure in customers, Hurn, said. “You have to consider logistics, how to get the product to the buyer, and — it might be an obvious one — but know how you are going to get paid via online.”
While Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) is a good place for business owners to present their products, oftentimes, an owner’s products can get lost in the sea of items Amazon offers or pushed down in search results from lack of customer reviews. Hurn said the way small businesses compete with Amazon’s listing is by having unique items and presenting them well. “Include plenty of high-res photos to show off your items.”
However, while e-commerce may help improve business, Hurn said physical workplaces are still a plus for business owners. “In my experience, if you want to accomplish anything, you can do only so much by yourself. You need to bring in other people to help delegate. If you really want to grow a business, you need to hire other people, and a physical place helps people come together to focus.”