Live from Internet Retailer 2011: Business tips for economic survival

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SAN DIEGO — To weather a turbulent economy, small business owners must 1) reject complacency, and 2) try new things.

“Business is a roller coaster but you can enjoy the ride,” said David Redlich, CEO of ReStockIt.com. Redlich’s seminar at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition this week offered ways small businesses can remain successful even when times are tough. Redlich's offered following tips:

Focus on your business, not others'. This sounds like a given, but many small-business owners instead get caught up in what their competitors are doing. “Keep an eye on your competition, but run your own race,” Redlich said. “People might have different goals, so don’t get caught up in what others are doing.” If your competitors drop their pricing, ask yourself why before matching.. A competitor could be dropping prices to compensate in other areas, rather than compete directly with you.

Be friendly with your competitors. This may go against everything you’ve been taught, but it comes in handy when you need to share information — like why they’ve dropped their prices, or why your own sales are off. “If you’re having a down day, you can reach out to someone to see if it’s a trend,” Redlich said.

Diversity counts. There are a gazillion ways to sell online. Attaching your store to as many channels as possible casts a wider net around the customer pool. “Diversifying is key,” Redlich said.

Make sure you’re visible on shopping aggregator sites like Bing, Google, Buy.com, Shopzilla and Bizrate. If this sounds like a lot of work, know that you can use the same product feeds for many of them.

Consider adding more products to your site. “If you add more products to your site, you’re giving more opportunity for Google to crawl your site,” Redlich said. “And if you’re adding products, your competitors will be adding products, too.”

Have the right team. According to Redlich, an employee’s talent and experience are critical, but cultural fit reigns supreme. Hire people you can cross-train. Have daily huddles to talk about the previous day’s numbers as well as to set goals. Restockit.com also employs a paid intern ever summer to help with content work and SEO issues.

Consider getting a line of credit. You may not need the lifeline that credit can give you now, but it’s a good idea to keep it around just in case you need it down the road. “When you need it is probably when you can’t get it,” Redlich said. “So try to get it now.”

 

More from the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition:
SHOP TALK: Where to place your in-store pickup counter
Tips for competing against e-commerce giants
Consumers research online but prefer to buy local
Producing budget-conscious videos
Do your employees have a clue?
Convenience top reason to shop with smartphones