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How Your Small Business Can Compete With Big Retailers in 2013

December 24th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

This holiday shopping season, big retailers did a lot of things differently—and the changes they made will continue into 2013 and beyond, posing new challenges for small retailers and ecommerce companies seeking to compete. The BDO Retail Compass Survey of CMOs polled 100 chief marketing officers at the nation’s leading retailers and found:

Big retailers rely on social media. Social media has become an essential marketing tool, used by 86 percent of big retailers, up from 4 percent in 2007. Overall, social media made up 10 percent of holiday marketing and advertising budgets this year.

Big retailers are playing catch-up when it comes to mobile. Half of the retailers surveyed are including mobile in their marketing strategy, up 39 percent from 2011, but still short of 100 percent participation.

Big retailers are going digital. Although two-thirds of big retailers report their holiday marketing and advertising budgets were flat this year, they are shifting where they spend those dollars. While print is still the top advertising expenditure for 42 percent of companies, 31 percent spent most of their marketing dollars online. That’s a 35 percent increase from last year.

Big retailers are struggling with big data. With tons of customer data available through in-store purchases, email, social media and ecommerce and mobile sales, a whopping 93 percent of retailers admit it’s a challenge to integrate and manage the data, and 40 percent say it’s “very challenging.” But two-thirds plan to increase their use of customer data for targeted marketing efforts in the next year.

Big retailers are moving beyond Facebook. While Facebook is still the top social media marketing channel for 99 percent of retailers surveyed, one in five is marketing on Pinterest, and 51 percent are using Twitter.

Big retailers are trying a variety of mobile tactics. Many different mobile marketing tactics are being used, with flash sales and daily deals the primary mobile marketing tool for 30 percent of retailers, text messages the main focus for 23 percent, and mobile coupons for 20 percent. Less popular are mobile apps and QR codes, each cited as the main tactic by 14 percent. Big retailers are also rolling out new tools for mobile engagement, such as in-store GPS and product review apps.

Will your small retail or ecommerce business be able to keep up with the big guys? It’s not going to be easy – but it can be done. All of the tactics they are using can be used by a small business, too. Whether it’s advertising online or developing an app, look into how you can engage your customers in the ways they want to be reached.

Image by Flickr user coolinsights (Creative Commons)


The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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