As I always say, when it comes to small business, there is good news and bad news.
The good news is that small businesses have all sorts of advantages that our bigger brethren do not. We can make decisions on the fly, pivot, and head in a new direction (let’s see a Fortune 50 company do that!) Because we are small, we can know our customers personally, by name even, and that individual attention is hard to beat.
This is even more true when it comes to selling to other businesses, because one thing is for certain: business is all about relationships. The advantage that a small business often has when selling to other businesses – big and small alike – is that we can direct our energies and resources with personalization and immediacy, and as such, we are often better able to foster and grow B2B relationships.
Let’s see an auto-responder do that!
On the downside, big businesses have resources that we can only dream of. They have bigger budgets, far more personnel, a lot more specialized expertise, and that makes competing with them difficult.
The best of both worlds occurs when big companies create tools to help we small business do our jobs better. And that’s exactly what I have seen recently from UPS, with its revolutionary new company and service called Ware2Go.
I am not exaggerating when I say I think that Ware2Go can level the playing field for small business when it comes to e-commerce.
A little background is in order: As we all know (only too well), the Internet has changed everything when it comes to small business. Social media, digital marketing, websites – it’s all transformational. And, while all of those are important, for my money the biggest game-changer is e-commerce.
Here’s why: back in the day, it used to be that a small business was stuck – for good or ill – doing business only in its neighborhood. If the local economy was good, that was great, but when it turned south, we were out of luck.
That is, of course, until the advent of e-commerce. All of a sudden, not only could a small business compete with a larger one, and not only could that small business have an e-commerce site that was every bit as big and beautiful as its larger competition, but the small business now had the ability to sell globally, 24/7.
No longer would a small business be stuck only selling to people in its area.
But here’s the bad news: Even though selling via e-commerce has opened up a plethora of options, that old bugaboo – bigger competitors – can still vex us. The biggest issue here is that consumers have come to expect 2-day shipping, and for many a small business, that is a tall order.
Say that you are a business in California and you get an order from a company in Florida for 100 of your commercial saw blades, but they need them in two days. And, after all, isn’t that what the big competitors offer? But for that Cali company, shipping 100 saw blades cross-country in two days may just not be feasible, either logistically or financially.
That is where Ware2Go comes in.
What if that California company had warehouse space on the east coast? In that case, getting that order to Florida in a couple of days would be a breeze. And that is exactly what Ware2Go offers you.
UPS realized that there are two pain points that can be alleviated with this new comany. For the small business, finding and securing warehouse space in another state, while desirable, wasn’t really feasible. How do you find that warehouse? What is a fair price? How do you set it up?
Similarly, warehouses around the country are generally not at maximum capacity. But where do they find new customers, especially from out of state? Answer: They don’t.
In a very clever Airbnb type of system, UPS has figured out that Ware2Go could find warehouses with extra space and offer that space via a digital portal to small businesses. That California company can create a Ware2Go account, get a warehouse on the east coast to store its widgets, and can then offer customers 2-day shipping via UPS.
It’s a classic win-win. The warehouse gets a customer and the small business gets
- Fulfillment by a trusted and vetted warehousing partner
- The ability to compete online vis-à-vis customer expectations
- The opportunity to expand, safely.
This is the exact kind of thing I am talking about when I say that it is the best time ever to be a small business because there have never been more options for growing your business, like, well, competing with the big boys in e-commerce.