Why Smaller Businesses Are The Future Of Online Shopping

When shopping online, many of us choose to shop with larger retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Wish, etc. It can feel as though it’s potentially easier or even safer to shop with these larger retailers as they are longer-established and, as a result, we may feel that they are more trustworthy. However, is that always the case?

There are actually many reasons why shopping with larger retailers such as Amazon could leave you receiving products that you are not happy with or, in worse case scenarios, you don’t get at all what you thought you ordered.

In 2020, there are actually far more positives to doing your shopping with smaller, independent retailers, but what are they? What are the benefits for the consumers and for the retailers themselves?

Here are just a few reasons why smaller retailers are the future of online shopping, and why it’s time you considered making the switch.

You Know Exactly What You Are Getting

With the rise of ‘drop-shipping’, there has been a massive increase in the amount of customers who just aren’t getting the product that they ordered. If you’ve never heard of drop-shipping, it’s the process of a customer placing an order for an item from a particular retail seller – what the customer doesn’t realise, however, is that the seller most likely has never even had or will ever have that item in their possession. Many low quality drop-shipping businesses simply source cheap stock from wholesalers such as Alibaba or AlliExpress and have those items shipped directly from the manufacturer to the consumer.

Essentially, you could purchase what you think is a $25 item, but in reality, it could be a $3 item being sold at a huge mark-up by a drop-shipping company!

In many cases, it may be that the product simply looks slightly different – this is often the case for accessories, homeware and clothing bought from large retailers and marketplace sellers, which charge low prices for the items that they sell. Hundreds of consumers each year are delivered products which look, feel and fit entirely different to what they ordered and face a lengthy and complicated return process – if there is a valid returns process at all – in order to get their money back.

However, the problems really begin when a customer has ordered an item within the health and beauty industry. When ordering cosmetic products or bath and body goods from larger retailers, especially those who have been flooded with a multitude of ‘drop-shipping’ start-ups, many consumers receive items which have a completely different list of ingredients to the one listed on the site when the product was purchased. This can mean not only that the products are not as high in quality, but also that the products could cause adverse or even allergic reactions in the consumers who use them. There have even been plenty of recorded cases in the past of consumers receiving bath and body products which are classed as ‘out of date’, having been kept in storage for often extensive amounts of time, and then sent out to customers before being thoroughly checked.

Even worse, counterfeit beauty products may contain toxic ingredients which could be seriously dangerous – counterfeit cosmetics made in China have previously been found to contain mercury, cyanide, lead and even human urine. These ingredients can cause rashes, burns, permanent disfigurements and even long-term health problems - yet there’s very little chance of receiving any compensation if this happens to you, as it can be almost impossible to open a lawsuit against a company like this in a developing country.

Why are smaller retailers less likely to deliver such an experience?

Well, larger retailers following the “marketplace” business model aren’t as highly regulated, nor do they even have the capacity to police the thousands of products being listed for sale on their sites. With so many products offered, it’s impossible for each and every one to be governed correctly. This is another reason why the returns or complaints process for such retailers is so lengthy and, at times, entirely fruitless.

With a smaller retailer, you can shop with confidence knowing that the products that you are receiving are exactly what you ordered. If there are any doubts, it is usually far easier to contact the company and find a resolution to your disputes, whether that’s to receive a refund, replacement product, or simply reassurance that the ingredients or materials used in the product you have received are as they were advertised on the website itself.

Long story short, when you shop with smaller retailers, there’s a much lower chance of being unhappy with the product that you eventually receive. Isn’t that the minimum that we all expect from online shopping? Of course! So, why do we keep shopping with larger retailers where this isn’t always the case?

At Strivezy, we purchase our products from the actual manufacturer, so we know that the goods we’re selling are authentic and high quality. We don’t source products from anyone but the actual company making the products. 

Fake Reviews

When shopping online, we all tend to check the reviews to make sure that what we’re getting is exactly what we want and that other buyers have found the item to be of good quality. However, larger retail sites are often rife with fake reviews, making it difficult to set genuine buyer reviews apart from ones which have been written by the company themselves or people paid by the company to write fake positive testimonials.

It isn’t just positive reviews, either – companies have also been caught paying for negative reviews to be written under the listings of their more successful competitors in an effort to drive down their ranking in search listings. With all this going on, it’s almost impossible to look at the reviews on a larger retailer’s website and know whether or not what you’re reading is even slightly genuine.

When buying from smaller retailers, you are far more likely to be looking at genuine reviews from previous customers, and therefore can have more confidence in knowing the reviews you are reading are an accurate representation of the product that you will eventually receive.

Customer testimonials can be critical when deciding whether or not you make a particular purchase, so it’s helpful to know when the review you are looking at is one which will allow you to purchase a product with far more confidence.

Returns Policies

We’ve touched on this already, but it’s an important point in itself: how do you know whether or not you will be able to return a certain item if you receive it and are not happy with it?

When buying from marketplace retailers, the returns policies can vary widely from and are often chosen by the specific sub-retailer, meaning that returns can often take a long time and the return policy itself can sometimes be complicated and difficult.

With smaller retailers, there is generally one unified return policy covering all products on the website, stated clearly, so that all customers know where they stand in the event they are not happy with the item that they receive.

Nobody likes to receive an item that doesn’t quite live up to their expectations, so it’s always helpful to know whether or not you have chance to get your money back on the item in the case that you do need to send it back – though with smaller retailers, this is a far less common occurrence, as there is more clarity involved in the process of buying the item in the first place.

Smaller Businesses Do Far More For The Economy

In the age of COVID-19, it’s important that we support small businesses. Larger retailers will always be around – in fact, a couple of months into the Coronavirus pandemic, it was reported that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, was on track to become the first trillionaire in history!

Smaller businesses, however, are often family owned. The livelihoods of those running small, independent businesses are put far more at risk by global events such as a pandemic, as there is less help available for individual business owners than there is for the larger multi-billion dollar businesses and enterprises.

In addition, when consumers support small businesses, far more of that money finds its way back into the national economy as a whole. In a year like 2020, supporting small businesses is paramount in ensuring that the country is able to get back on its feet following a global event which has impacted economies across the world.

Better Customer Service

If you purchase from a larger retailer and have any questions or experience any issues, you are often redirected to a support centre run either by a bot or computer – technology which is so intelligent now that you may not even realise when this is the case – or to a worker who has no real affiliation with or personal investment in the operation of the business itself.

When purchasing from smaller businesses and companies, your questions are being answered to someone who either works closely with the company or is one of the driving forces behind it. Not only will the answer to your question come from someone who understands the company, but someone who has a strong reason to care about it.

The customer service offered by small businesses and retailers, as a result, is usually far more personal and, in addition, more effective at quickly solving disputes and delivering a result that you, as the customer, can be happy with.

Prevalence of Counterfeit Products

While many products listed on the sites of larger retailers claim to be luxury or of high quality, this isn’t always the case – and it’s sometimes incredibly hard to tell the difference, even once the product has arrived.

The truth is that larger retailers, specifically following the marketplace model of Amazon and eBay, are rife with counterfeit products. At times they claim these products to be from a designer brand or simply to be made from different, higher-quality materials. Either way, there is very little way to establish whether or not the product that you ordered on the website is exactly what you wanted when you ordered it and will match what you were shown in the listing. 

One of the reasons this is so prevalent is due to the intermingling of stock from different suppliers within the warehouses of marketplace retailers. For example, you may purchase a product from what you feel is a reputable seller – however, other less legitimate sellers may also have the same items listed on the site. The items from the less legitimate sellers could be expired, fake or simply not functional, but they may look and feel exactly the same as the legitimate items. Many times all sellers of the same product send their inventory to the same warehouse location where they could all be stored together. This means even when you order from a legitimate seller, you may still receive one of the bad products since they’re all stored together. This is common practice in the warehouses of marketplace sellers, so you never really know exactly what you’re getting.

When using smaller retailers, there is often proof sent either with the item or given as part of the listing, that the product you ordered is exactly what you are getting.

Smaller retailers can be far more transparent and honest about the origins of their products, as there is a much bigger incentive to really care about their customers than that felt by those who sell wholesale products on larger retail sites.

After all, if a retailer who sells exclusively on marketplace type sites receives enough bad reviews, they can simply remove their listings, change their company name and start again elsewhere – at which point, they may continue to disappoint their customers in exactly the same way, just under a new business name.

However, smaller retailers don’t wish to pull the wool over the eyes of their consumers – they simply want to deliver great products, great customer service and an overall experience that their customers can be happy with.

Sustainability and Ethics

Companies who sell through larger retailers are often selling products which have been produced cheaply, and often in conditions which aren’t as ethically satisfactory as you would expect to see in this day and age.

In 2020, we’ve heard many horror stories of companies with employees who received wages falling under the legal ‘living wage’ requirements or who have been treated unfairly in the workplace. With such large companies, it’s much easier for these stories and complaints from employees to remain under the radar and be left unheard by top leadership, or simply ignored.

Smaller retailers are more likely to have used workers and sourced products from factories who work under good conditions with fair pay (many times certified fair trade), and – in the rare case that this does not happen – the business owners are far more likely to be notified of such occurrences and fix them.

You are also given less clarity on the origins of products you have purchased when shopping with larger retailers, meaning you could be purchasing products made using unsustainable materials – something which we are all far more conscious about these days and often look to avoid. Smaller retailers are often far more likely to have used sustainable materials to make products in an environment which is fair to workers, so you can shop for items knowing that you have contributed to fairer working conditions for factory workers.

Sustainability is a big deal in 2020 – a fact which, unfortunately, many larger retailers are still getting away with avoiding.

If you have any questions about any of our products that we carry at Strivezy, feel free to ask us and we’ll give you an answer. We run our business in a manner that we’re not afraid of transparency and have nothing to hide!

Conclusion

There are so many reasons to shop with smaller retailers in 2020!

Whether it’s about ensuring that you receive the highest quality items, are treated with respect and care by customer service and support departments or are contributing to a fairer working environment, it’s clear that smaller retailers are the way to go.

Don’t be fooled by counterfeit products, fake reviews, lousy customer support and complicated return polices any longer – shop small, support small and notice the positive difference it has on your shopping experience as a whole

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