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The Long-Lasting Impact of eCommerce On Rural Business

By: Andrew Deen


a rural country farm store

For business owners and entrepreneurs in rural areas, sustaining a business on walk-ins alone can be incredibly difficult. Convincing someone to buy a product is one thing, but convincing someone to drive hours to buy a product is something else entirely.

Thankfully, eCommerce has presented itself as a potent antidote to the challenge of having a business based in a rural area. Rather than needing people in one’s store to sustain one’s business, utilizing online platforms to sell products can have a profoundly beneficial effect on the amount of business one can do.

Understanding the long-lasting ways in which eCommerce can impact rural business will give one a deeper perspective on the ways that business is evolving in today’s modern age.

Here is the long-lasting impact ecommerce can have on rural business.

eCommerce Allows Rural Businesses to Capitalize on the Holiday Season

For most businesses, the holiday season is a part of the year that is ripe with opportunities to grow sales and convert new customers. Unfortunately for small rural businesses, it can be hard to do this with a limited amount of consumers in one’s area.

Luckily, eCommerce provides rural businesses with a chance to get in on the holiday action by expanding their reach. By being able to reach and sell to consumers in various parts of the country, rural businesses can take advantage of the holiday season and increase their sales.

To do this effectively, it can help to engage in some effective digital marketing techniques or enlist the help of a marketing communications manager for specialized insights. The more holiday-centered marketing efforts that rural businesses employ, the more opportunities they’ll have to increase their sales during the holiday season.

eCommerce Allows Rural Businesses to Market More Effectively

Before eCommerce, rural businesses were stuck only being able to market to those in the general vicinity of their store. Unfortunately, being in a rural area typically means having far fewer people to market one’s business to than in a metropolitan area.

Fortunately, eCommerce has changed this. Now, rather than only being able to market to individuals who are in the general vicinity of one’s store, rural businesses have the potential to market to the entire world and engage in international business.

By investing in digital marketing, rural businesses can create a loyal following of customers regardless of where they live. This being the case, eCommerce has the potential to change the way that rural businesses operate and increase their potential to scale their growth.

eCommerce Allows Rural Businesses to Lean Into their Uniqueness

Oftentimes, for small businesses — especially those in rural areas — it can be difficult to compete with larger retailers. This is because of the fact that larger retailers are able to offer lower prices for many products that simply wouldn’t be sustainable for small businesses to offer.

However, there are ways that small businesses in rural areas can use being a small business as an advantage rather than a detriment. According to Dr. Jason Jolley, Professor of Rural Economic Development and MPA Director at Ohio University, “[s]mall retailers can offer unique, and often locally produced, items that big box retailers do not stock due to the retail chain business model of buying large quantities of product that they stock.”

By leaning into their local identity and investing in unique products that larger retailers don’t have access to, small businesses in rural areas can keep sales at a sustainable level and alleviate some of the pressure put on them by bigger companies.

eCommerce Allows Rural Businesses to Take Advantage of Existing Networks

While rural businesses have the opportunity to create their own websites and systems of selling products online, the vast amount of digital marketplaces means they don’t necessarily have to. In fact, according to Dr. Jason Jolley, “many small businesses now sell through Amazon and similar retailers,” making it easier for rural businesses to make the transition into the eCommerce space.

For rural businesses that begin to grow as a result of online orders but don’t have the space for storing inventory or the technical know-how to process and ship orders, selling on online platforms like Amazon is a great option. In these cases, Amazon will not only store the inventory being sold on their marketplace but will also pack and ship the orders directly to consumers when they’re ordered.

The ease with which rural businesses can take advantage of online retailers such as Amazon is hard to understate. Given that there are now almost no barriers to rural businesses who want to sell online, it is more than likely that this practice will soon become extremely common, if not ubiquitous, amongst small businesses in rural areas.

eCommerce Is Causing a Radical Shift in Rural Business

While eCommerce may be a competitive market with its own challenges, the fact that this avenue of selling has become more approachable for rural businesses marks a defining shift in the way that these businesses can operate. Whereas rural businesses used to have an extremely limited scope of consumers to market to and convert, the online retail space has expanded its potential consumer base to the entire world.

Though not every rural business has made the switch to eCommerce, it is more than likely that most if not all rural businesses will jump on the eCommerce train within the next decade.

Published: January 10, 2023

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Andrew Deen

Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business. Twitter @AndrewDeen14.

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