Tag Archive for 'online sales'

RESULTS: How much of your revenue comes from online sales?

The Question:

Small businesses are increasingly using e-business to grow. How much of your annual revenue do you estimate comes from online sales?

0% - 100%
6% - More than 50%
39% - Less than 50%
55% - None
Jim’s Comments:
As you can see, our respondents this week aren’t using the Internet much to drive sales. Over the years our responses have been consistent with several scientific surveys I report on my radio program, but I hope this isn’t the case this time.  Consider the research below:

  • According to an aggregation of sales research, the amount of global online sales reached almost $1.5 TRILLION in 2014 (all caps for emphasis), and is projected to be almost $2.5 TRILLION by 2018. And that’s just business-to-consumer (B2C).
  • But the big online bell ringer is business-to-business (B2B), projected to reach almost $7 TRILLION by 2020.

I’m going to have more to say about this in an upcoming Feature Article, but for now let me tell you that if you’re not providing at least some online capability for all kinds of customers to do business with you online, you’re becoming a dinosaur. And we all know what happened to dinosaurs.


Do you know how customers are finding you?

In the old days, when someone would call or come in the door of your business for the first time, you would ask them how they found you. And since it’s not your customer’s job to catalog such things for future retrieval, you probably had to help them a little by reciting examples of where you might have spent your marketing budget: an ad on the radio, TV, newspaper, Yellow Pages, a Little League uniform, etc.

Here in the second decade of the 21st century, asking how customers find you is still important, but with one new element: For the past 10-15 years, you should also include, “or did you find us online?”

Not too long ago, saying “our website” instead of “online” would have been appropriate. Today, online is best because customers can find you in other places on the Internet, including the social media and customer review platforms, even if, Heaven forbid, you don’t have a website.

The question is not whether your company is “out there” online today, but rather to what degree and – this is so important it will be on the test – what is being said about your business.

We wanted to know how much small businesses are attributing sales performance to the Internet, so recently we asked our radio and online audience this question: “How much of your 2011 sales do you think will result from some kind of Internet activity, even as simple as people just finding your business mentioned online?” The results made me very happy. About 90% of our respondents said they would be able to attribute some sales in 2011 from the Internet.

Breaking the numbers down, over 50% said less than half of 2011 sales would be attributed to online activity. The next number is really exciting: About one-fourth said they would see more than half of their sales from the Internet. And finally, the bookends: Those who said all of their sales would come from the Internet were almost the same – around 10% – as those who recorded a goose egg because (read this with a nasal whine), “We don’t have a website.”

As the Age of the Customer™ becomes the marketplace norm, your customers are increasingly demanding more connection and support from you with online resources. Any company that is not making at least some effort to meet the growing online support demand will experience the painful death of irrelevancy.

You don’t have to win the online race to be successful, but you do have to show up and compete.

Today on The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked more about the Age of the Customer and why you should have an online presence. Click on the link below to listen and, as always, leave your comments.

Do you know how customers are finding you?

To participate in this week’s Small Business Advocate poll, go to SmallBusinessAdvocate.com.

Serving customers online is not an option, it’s an imperative

Continuing the series on small business responses to poll questions on our e-newsletter and website, recently we asked this question about e-commerce (aka online sales, aka Internet sales): How much of your small business’ annual revenue comes from online sales? Here is what our respondents said:

·  Five percent said all revenue came from e-commerce.

·  Fourteen percent said more than half of their sales came from the Internet.

·  A little more than half said e-commerce represented less than 50% of total sales.

·  One fourth said they had no online sales at all.

E-commerce has been around for a big chunk of the commercial Internet age, which began in 1995 when unencumbered access to the Internet was fully allowed. But in terms of historical marketplace practices, e-commerce is just a baby.  So I’m actually quite pleased with the mix of responses we received, indicating that 75% of small businesses are generating some e-commerce revenue.  But over the next five years, there will be significant increased pressure to generate online sales.

According to the research firm, Forrester, online sales will reach $248.7 billion in the next five years, accounting for 8 percent of total U.S. retail sales by 2014. But the next statistic may be more important (read: ominous) for small businesses.

Forrester also predicts that by 2014, over half of all retail sales will be influenced by online product and company research before customers make a purchase.  The reason this stat is so significant is because of another piece of research that produced this astonishing number: Half of small businesses DO NOT have a website.

Regardless of size or industry, no business can expect to be successful in the future without a web presence. Even if you don’t sell online, you MUST be available online so prospects can find you the way people are looking today. Here are two words that make having a website even more of an
imperative: local search.

Local search is increasingly replacing the phone book or dialing 411. Even when customers don’t expect a business to have e-commerce capability, like a restaurant or dry cleaners, they do expect to be able to find you online, with product offerings, directions and a clickable phone number.

If you don’t have a website, get one; today you can actually get a simple one for free. And unless you sell nuclear products or Stinger missiles, please, find a way to offer e-commerce to your customers; It’s not free, but it’s no longer cost-prohibitive.

Serving customers online is not an option, it’s an imperative

Brick and Mortar Move Over

Our most recent poll question in the Newsletter and on our website was about e-commerce. We asked this question: How much of your small business’ annual sales revenue comes from online sales? Here’s what our respondents said:

  • Five percent of respondents said online sales represented 100% of their revenue.
  • Fourteen percent said more than half of their sales came from the Internet.
  • A little more than 50% of respondents said online sales counted for less than half of total   revenue.
  • And about one fourth said they had no online sales.

In terms of the Internet age, e-commerce has been around for a big chunk of that period. But compared to the traditional marketplace, the practice of selling online is still in its infancy. So I’m actually quite pleased with the response mix we got, especially that 75% of our participants are producing some sales through e-commerce.  I’ll have more to say, including some research on this subject, next week.

To participate in next week’s poll question, visit www.smallbusinessadvocate.com and vote.




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