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Helping Local to Go Global

Do you recall how business was before the pandemic? We performed face-to-face sales calls, went to suppliers’ plants, and signed contracts. Flying to trade exhibitions was the primary means for business-to-business (or B2B) enterprises that create and sell items to other businesses to show off their wares, meet new clients and suppliers, and uncover new ideas and innovations to keep ahead of the competition.

As COVID-19 spread and stay-at-home orders took effect, few of the old business models were viable, and corporate leaders struggled to discover new ways to operate. That meant curbside, delivery, and e-commerce options for main street retailers and restaurants. And B2B manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors who aren’t known for being early adopters of digital technologies have been fast putting their businesses online and finding worldwide trading partners. During the pandemic, these have proven to be lifelines for an increasing number of enterprises.

Rise of the Online Marketplace

We’ve all heard about the rise of business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce, and many of us have probably ordered groceries, clothes, or other personal products online this year. However, B2B enterprises that went online discovered a massive opportunity in the $23.9 trillion worldwide B2B e-commerce sector, which, according to the US International Trade Administration, is six times greater than B2C e-commerce. They discovered that B2B e-commerce platforms like City Shoppe enabled them to trade in bulk with enterprises both domestically and internationally.

E-commerce sites are always open, sales possibilities are not limited to the few days a year when trade exhibits are held. Another advantage of having an online store is that it is significantly less expensive than having a booth at a trade show, where a display can cost tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention time and travel. It is beneficial for small businesses. Then there’s the issue of scalability: your e-commerce store can reach tens of millions of potential customers all over the world without the need for offshore warehouses or salespeople. And perhaps the best part is that you can do all of this from the comfort of your couch.

E-Commerce is a Pool of Opportunities for Small Businesses

Going digital doesn’t have to be tough, and there are plenty of tools available to assist you, from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) to local Chambers of Commerce. Alibaba.com’s Digitalization Sprint for U.S. Manufacturers is also there to help, a free four-week master class built by the industry’s top experts to help qualified, U.S.-based manufacturers, accelerate the digitization of online marketing, selling, and sourcing for long-term success.

And becoming digital is helping businesses expand globally. Two of the most important benefits of e-commerce, according to B2B executives, are the ability to access worldwide markets (24%), as well as built-in translation services that allow them to engage with trading partners in other languages (16 percent). Through e-commerce, small businesses are being preferred by people to shop online!

However, in this rush towards going global, local vendors are witnessing a dramatic dip in buyers as the online behemoths are grabbing large chunks of the marketplace. Online portals such as City Shoppe help the locals to go global with a cutting-edge digital platform where they can showcase their products and compete with the bigwigs in terms of discounts and shipping.

Now is the moment for business owners and leaders to make e-commerce a core element of their operations to weather today’s storms, modernize to stay competitive even in the best of circumstances, and take a piece of the massive global B2B e-commerce pie.

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