RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – ChannelAdvisor has been a pioneer and thought leader in ecommerce since its launch nearly two decades ago. Its customers range from giants Amazon and eBay to smaller businesses seeking to grow – or stay alive – through online marketing and sales. So how can the small business owner hope to compete as Amazon and others embrace one-hour shipping, offer bigger inventories and are willing to price match?

Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30 drew crowds to brick-and-mortar storefronts and media attention. But what about online where more and more people are shopping as exemplified by record spending over the past so-called Cyber 5 weekend (Thanksgiving through Black Friday to Cyber Monday).

WRAL TechWire reached out to ChannelAdvisor’s management team for insight, and Mike Shapaker, Chief Marketing Office, agreed to share his insights via an exclusive Q&A. (Read part one at this link – a general overview of the ecommerce market.)

  • Small business saturday sales were up – do you have data on small business ecommerce specifically? What’s it tell you?

Our customers range from small businesses to the largest brands and retailers globally. We have seen strong holiday sales growth across all sectors.

  • How are small business customers competing with Amazon, Walmart and Target? What do they need to be doing?

Most of our small businesses – that are achieving their business goals – are partnering with Amazon, Walmart, and sometimes Target by selling on their marketplaces.

Small businesses often bring inventory not otherwise carried by the larger players. By helping fill that product gap on those retail sites via the marketplaces, small businesses can achieve their desired results. Of course, great customer service and quality products are key to getting this right.

  • Is one-day/one hour shipping the next big wave? And if so how do small businesses compete in that space? Is there a Grubhub for small businesses?

Amazon is attempting to make one day and even same-day shipping the next big wave. This is an enormously expensive undertaking. The Grubhub model is also very expensive.

A few things that small businesses can do to compete in this environment are:

1) partner with larger players such as marketplaces or logistics companies to offer this service

2) encourage customers to pick up in-store, if those exist

3) differentiate on customer service, expertise, and quality.

While the large players are making a push for faster and faster delivery, most consumers will be satisfied at a certain point. For example, if I can get it tomorrow, I don’t really need it in the next hour, at least most of the time.

As ecommerce booms, what’s driving sales? How can brick-and-mortar shops survive? Here’s a look