It’s a tale as old as time. David versus Goliath. Retailers of all shapes and sizes are constantly having to do more with less to win – and just like in David and Goliath, we know it is possible for the little guy to triumph. With that said, it certainly isn’t an easy feat – especially in a world where the tools and services are designed for businesses in the bigger end of town.

Despite figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that 97.5% of all businesses in Australia are small businesses and a further 2.3% medium businesses, it seems like there is a huge gap to support their growth. According to Ibis World there are more than 90,000 ecommerce businesses employing more than 93,000 people in Australia. When comparing the employment figures with the number of businesses, it’s safe to say the vast majority of businesses in the industry are SMBs.

Having an online store once upon a time would seemingly incur less overheads than a physical store due to its virtual nature. As inflation continues to rise, so too do the overheads that online retailers have to absorb – this comes down to the running of their ecommerce site and the costs associated to create seamless shopping experiences for customers. And this is hitting the SMBs the most, eating into their already slim margins.

So, how can they succeed in building a successful ecommerce business with all these extra costs? What are the things they should consider when starting out or looking to migrate to another platform?

Features and customisation capabilities

First impressions are everything – especially when it comes to your online store. While customers might be able to interact with a chatbot or customer service online, most are having little to no interaction with someone from your team. This means you want the look and feel to reflect your brand and the overall experience with the online store to be seamless.

While it’s relatively easy to set up an online store with an ecommerce platform provider, it may not always enable you to achieve that look and feel or experience you dreamed for. And if it does, there’s usually additional costs associated with it. Unfortunately, many SMBs are being locked out of these features and apps which are essential to help build your ecommerce brand, connect with customers and ultimately grow revenue.

When setting up an ecommerce store or migrating to another platform, consider working with a partner that is more inclusive with features and what it offers. Find out what – if any – additional costs there are to customise your website or add features that would be considered premium on other platforms.

Integrations – and how it fits with the existing tech stack

As the retail landscape evolves, retailers need to revisit and consolidate existing tech stacks based on needs. Online retailers have accumulated a host of tools in their tech stack over the last few years, however, too much money is being wasted on underutilised tools.

Retailers should look at working with platforms that offer the most value. That value includes not only cost but also the features and customisation capabilities, and the integrations available. There is so much tech out there for retailers but not all of it talks to each other. Integration will help reduce costs and streamline business operations.

Choose partners and vendors that speak the same language and connect seamlessly. For example, look for partners who have a platform that connects with your chosen shipping partners. If you have a physical store, look for partners that can help unify your online and offline businesses rather than running them siloed. By reducing the need for multiple partners, this will help reduce your overheads and drive growth by providing a better experience for your customers.

Cut the surprise costs

At the end of the day, David can triumph over Goliath. Knowledge is power and being savvy with where you can gain the most value will help your business achieve success. Merchants that can peel back the hidden layers of surprise costs will have better foresight over where the real value lies with the partners they choose to work with.

Consider the features, integrations and insights that are required to help empower your online store to take on the big guys. Work with partners that understand these needs and won’t keep shortchanging you. Everyone deserves a fair slice of the pie. Now is the time for the ecommerce industry to come together and empower merchants of all sizes to grow as successfully as their bigger counterparts.

Jon Levy is country manager for Australia at Shopline.