Hello! We’re Fairmart and we’re a community commerce company. We started Fairmart because SME retailers are losing sales to online competitors simply because their inventories are not searchable. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, 46% of all searches online are for local products and businesses. Yet a quick Google will demonstrate that the majority of listings online are taken by online players. This is especially true in South East Asia where marketplaces such as Lazada, Shopee, and Tokopedia are prevalent.
First, local businesses have a tremendous natural advantage over their online competitors: proximity. In fact, local results typically garner more clicks, provided that data related to their business is visible to search engines such as Google. Unfortunately very few are, which is where Fairmart comes in.
Fairmart solves this problem by making your entire store inventory searchable by anyone on the internet. Considering half of the traffic is for local results, advertising your local inventory can dramatically improve your online to offline conversion rates and contribute significantly to revenue growth. In fact, this has been verified in several case studies where it lead to 2x growth of in-store sales from online searches.
You might ask why do people search for things they need locally online? With 53% of the regional population digitally connected, it’s just become the default for the majority of people. A recent study by Episerver demonstrated that when looking for inspiration for what to buy, the majority of people turn to Google. This is why it’s so important for SME retailers to have a presence online.
Over the last 5 years, search has seen a seismic shift towards local listings. The reality used to be that consumers would go online only to buy online, but this has changed dramatically as consumers spend ever more time online. And of course they expect their local retailers to be online too.
Search terms demonstrate a shift to local results as well. Looking at Singapore search trend data shows that somewhere in 2016 queries for ‘near me’ overtook ‘buy online’, and grew steadily up until the pandemic hit. This is incredible considering the increased power and reach of e-commerce platforms, and perhaps can even be read as a response to their growth. While the pandemic arrested this trend in the early part of this year, we see that searches for local options have returned once the lockdown was lifted.
In this environment, it is critical for SME retailers to maximize their local reach or they will lose out to online competitors. Fortunately, they have two fundamental advantages: their proximity to their customers and their local inventory. Present a consumer with the option of getting what they want quickly at a nearby store vs waiting for it to be delivered and chances are they will go with the former (bulky items aside). This is demonstrated by the fact that local inventory ads are 94% more effective than just online shopping ads. Making sure your inventory is visible online is critical to capitalizing on these behaviours and driving foot traffic to retail stores.
Over the next several weeks, we will be publishing a series of articles about how SME retailers can leverage their inventory to drive more foot traffic to their stores. We’re excited to tell you more about the solution we’re building and how it can support local businesses!