Things to ‘definitely’ consider when shopping online: Am I Safe?

Everybody knows about the immense impact that Black Friday shopping has on our nation’s businesses. People line up for hours to be the first ones to enter stores and malls across the country. Superstores and commercial giants like Best Buy and Target dominate on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Online shopping, though, and a pushback from small businesses has changed the landscape of holiday shopping in recent years. In 2016, the news cycle following Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday was dominated by reports of online sales surpassing $3 billion on Friday alone and reaching close to $5 billion on the two days combined. The same reports noted that less shoppers were waiting outside for stores to open, and revenue from traditional brick-and-mortar shopping fell by about 10%.

With the establishment of Small Business Saturday in 2010 and the availability of online expansion for these small and mid-size businesses, the shoppers’ focus shifted away from the giants and back towards the little guys. The day immediately after Black Friday shoppers had a diminished turnout, small businesses welcomed an estimated 112 million customers.

So, maybe the little guys aren’t as little as they once were. This big shift towards small business is more than just a holiday season phenomenon. The emergence of online shopping and its own domination of the commercial markets has completely changed how small businesses interact with their customers. Social media outlets give small businesses a platform for customer interaction and advertising. The very nature of social media means that businesses can reach clients around the globe.

With the help of various e-commerce platforms, those same businesses can do more than just communicate with people around the world, they can be a part of the global marketplace. In fact, the propensity for small businesses to connect with customers and succeed in the realm of online shopping led to the boom of internet companies catering to business owners needing help with online diversification.

Sites like Squarespace, Magento, and Shopify entered the scene about a decade ago and have since transformed our shopping experience. In 2011, less than five years after Shopify’s inception as an e-commerce platform, the platform was powering websites for 15,000 stores based in 80 different countries around the world. By the end of 2015, Shopify was serving close to a quarter of a million stores from 150 countries worldwide.

Clearly, small business and online shopping are two industries with a big overlap. As each continues to develop in their own ways, they seem to become more intertwined. As Shopify’s Chief Platform Officer once said, they’re not just catering to today’s advances in small business operation, they’re “[building] a company for the next 100 years.”

As companies continue to use the internet to interact with customers in the digital age, we will continue to see them expanding into new markets and we will likely see an emergence of new online shopping trends. Already we’re seeing studies saying that 79% of Americans are doing their shopping online, and small businesses are certainly enjoying the benefits of joining the online marketplace.