Retail market with online and offline business models for small businesses

In recent years, before the explosion of digital technology, e-commerce activities have significantly changed consumer behavior.

The survey results of ‘WeAreSocial’ website conducted in January 2020 showed that nearly 75% of users have a habit of buying products through online applications. This result shows that consumers are tending to switch more to buying and selling products online. In the near future, a good combination of online sales and direct sales will be the foundation for small businesses to expand and develop sustainably.

Benefits of e-commerce for small businesses

The benefits of e-commerce in general and online business in particular are the lowest cost savings and profit creation for the transaction parties. Accordingly, with just a small budget to build an online sales website, introduce products on social networks and invest in automation marketing tools, businesses can market and provide products to customers without a physical store. It is worth mentioning that the initial cost is relatively low compared to direct selling. This shows that the potential benefits of e-commerce are very useful.

In addition, e-commerce also brings benefits to small businesses in creating a competitive advantage in price when expanding sales. When using e-commerce, the initial cost is often lower than traditional sales, because it does not need a lot of capital with renting stores, paying employees or renting warehouses. Small businesses can use online marketing with low cost, targeting potential customers is not only limited to the region, but can reach out to the world.

Trends in developing business models that combine online and in-person

Currently, businesses selling directly or simply online are facing many difficulties. Specifically, for simple direct selling businesses, the transmission of information to customers will be extremely limited, because the scope of customers to the store is only in the geographical area near the store.

According to statistics from Retaildive in 2019, over 87% of customers search for information about products online before going to the store to make a purchase. That shows, the direct selling stores have lost a huge competitive advantage to be able to conquer customers. On the contrary, many businesses focus too much on the online sales system and forget the importance of the direct store system. Meanwhile, for most people’s consumption habits, one of the most important factors for customers to choose a product is the actual experience. The habit of ‘seeing and touching’ is still a habit in the minds of the vast majority of consumers. Customers are always wary and lack trust in online products.

In that context, many small businesses are implementing a business model that is automation marketing tools to accelerate the experience of online shopping. With the assistance of chatbot and live chat services, businesses will advance the consumer’s shopping experience in the most optimal way. The correct marketing tool used is the key to the sustainable development of enterprises.

One of the tools called chatbot, provides customers with necessary pre-installed information, helping customers shop conveniently and save a lot of time. Another tool called smart widgets  will be implemented with a clear goal: The online channel is responsible for creating a clear perception in the customer’s mind about the product/service, thereby allowing potential customers to ask questions and get the answers right away from the sales manager just like in-store experience.

According to 13chats, chatbot is a useful solution to help small businesses improve sales efficiency through both online and direct channels. This is how sales attract online channels to their physical stores. E-commerce using chatbot services will help customers collect information about products through online spaces such as emails, advertising on the internet, websites, sales channels on social networks and other channels and from there, sellers can orient their customers to the actual stores of enterprises or make decisions to buy products of enterprises online.

What are automation marketing tools?

 According to Oracle, marketing automation is the software that helps marketing teams plan, deliver and manage follow-up activities on different platforms, and can quantify tracking, evaluation and tracking data as well as pricing and optimizing the efficiency of operations.

Basically, automation continues to reduce or even eliminate repetitive tasks, for example:

  • Live Chat
  • Automated Chatbot
  • Pop ups
  • Post a content article on various social platforms
  • Rely on the effectiveness of ad delivery to timely adjust advertising activities
  • Automated and integrated data collection of marketing activities across different platforms

The automation tool assists with lead development, customer behavior assessment and tracking, giving different metrics based on customer feedback to marketing progress.

The breach automation described above includes two aspects:

  • Content automation: content delivery will be different when targeting different audiences.
  • Channel automation: through different channels to target different audiences, like SMS, email, etc.

For example, an online brand website using a marketing automation tool such as 13chats Facebook Messenger Chatbot, during this time 10 users visited the brand’s website and signed up for membership. The marketing automation tool will send a welcome email to new members, and they will likely have the following behaviors:

  1. Unopened email;
  2. Opened the email, but did not take any further action;
  3. Have not opened the email, visit the website again and select the product in the queue;
  4. Have not opened the email, visit the website again and complete the purchase.

Based on the behavior of the above objects, the marketing automation tool will send out different content – content automation. For example:

  • For behavior type (2), send an email introducing new products;
  • For behavior type (3), send a mild payment reminder email;
  • For behavior type (4), send a thank you email to confirm the order, if the site visits again within 7 days, will proceed to send more VIP discount codes.

Advantages and disadvantages of applying automation marketing tools as business model for small businesses

The advantages

– Fast product information lookup: Customers feel convenience, save time and enjoy the benefits of comparing products, features, prices; can use discount codes, accumulate points or promotions at online or offline stores, collect customer’s consumption behavior, experience customer product reviews through online reviews. After consumers have experienced the customer support online via chatbot or live chat, they will likely make a purchase right away or are interested in going to the store to see the goods directly.

The difficulties

– It is difficult for small businesses to manage automation tools for sales management and customer care without an IT professional.

Solutions for small and startup businesses applying automation marketing tools

Based on 13chats data, in order for the automation marketing combination model, to be effective for small businesses, it is necessary to pay attention to the following issues:

  • Arrange qualified personnel to manage websites and social networking sites about products. Personnel should have a good understanding of the product, be able to post articles, images, video clips about product experience, provide complete product information such as features, product images, pricing policy, warranty. Be able to answer questions in live chat support about the product, thereby increasing the reputation of the business and the outstanding features of the product to create trust for customers.
  • Connect with carriers, include online payment into chatbots and live chat to reduce delivery and payment time.
  • Use multi-channel sales support software like pop ups.

Final thoughts

The purpose of a marketing automation tool is to help marketers free up time and energy from repetitive and tedious tasks, so they can focus on their strengths in identifying ways to improve their marketing. Marketing direction and goals, creating strategies and ideas for creative content, or choosing marketing materials are tasks that still need to depend on the professionalism of marketers.

Currently, most of the tools on the market are in English, worrying that it is too difficult to use has become an obstacle in the minds of marketers. 13chats service allows you to set pop-ups to display, for example, by browser language or by the specific URL of the page. Marketing automation tools require some research, and some basic coding knowledge. However, if you are well trained and put in the effort to explore all features of chatbot benefits, then you can get used to this tool and even move on to more advanced automation tools.