Two pieces worth noting to help keep your small retail business competitive.
One from the New York Times - Small Merchants Gain Large Presence on Web - pointing out that small- and medium-size retailers selling online has swelled in the last two years, from 21 percent to 32 percent. This article should give you cause to pause if you're thinking about opening a new business as a bricks-and-mortar location. (This sent in by pal and research guru Tim Stehle - thanks, Tim!)
The second from Andrew Shotland's blog, covering keynoter Allison Mnookin's (VP Small Business, Intuit) talk at the recent Kelsey Group Interactive Local Media Conference. She told attendees that company research shows 20% of the small businesses claimed that SEO was by far their “most effective” online marketing tactic. Only about 5% said that online advertising was most effective. Shotland remarks, "Of course 59% said business cards were the most effective form of marketing so we SEO junkies still have some work to do."
The Kelsey Group blogs also had great information from Mnookin's talk - check out Steve Marshall's post which includes hints on how vendors should work with small businesses, as well as tidbits such as, "SMBs spent about $110 billion on marketing last year. But only 22 percent have done any online marketing (in the past 12 months), and less than 5 percent of their marketing budgets are spent on online media. Finally, although 95 percent of SMBs say they want to have a Web site, less than 50 percent currently do."