Running with the Big Dogs of E-Commerce

(Even if you're just a pup).

In a global digital economy, size doesn’t matter.

The world’s electronic commerce system has transformed retailers into e-tailers, attracting and retaining consumers around the corner and around the globe. So, brands of various sizes and scope can now compete on the new global playing field, valued at $2.3 trillion and projected to almost double by 2021.

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For small businesses trying to mark their territory in e-commerce, the race still feels like an uphill battle.

But for small businesses trying to mark their territory in e-commerce, the race can still feel like an uphill battle. Even with a great product, smaller retailers often feel dwarfed by large brands that seem to always rise to the top of search engines.

They grow frustrated selling in several marketplaces, trying to keep orders straight and get everything shipped on time. Added to that, the big box retailers lure customers with super-quick shipping, sometimes for free.

So, what’s a two-people-selling-tiny-rock-gardens-out-of-your-garage business to do?

These are just some of the challenges small businesses face as they vie for consumers online. That’s why a variety of specifically designed tools and resources are empowering small businesses to expand globally and into multiple marketplaces.

UPS, for example, offers a host of small business solutions with guaranteed delivery times and competitive rates previously unavailable to many small- and medium-sized merchants. They simplify shipping and logistics and help level the playing field so small businesses can compete against larger brands.

Other advancements and technologies are also making it easier for small businesses to launch, manage and dominate in the world of e-commerce. The key is to understand the many options available to drive business to the next level.

Here are a few:


Thanks to the multi-channel commerce platform Shopify, small- and medium-sized merchants can easily start selling their wares online. They can use the software to create, launch and manage their online stores across sales channels such as the web, marketplaces and even social media. Shopify also offers pop-up shops.

Last year, UPS partnered with Shopify to offer an integrated platform that makes premium UPS services available so small businesses can easily manage shipping in one place. It offers exclusive UPS domestic and international rates, streamlined shipping and fulfillment and a dedicated phone line to help businesses with their shipping strategy.

The integration with Shopify can save merchants thousands of dollars in shipping while improving efficiency in order fulfillment. Business customers can print labels directly from the Shopify platform and automatically import tracking information to their web store, keeping customers informed and satisfied.

Marketplace Shipping

More than 96 percent of U.S. online shoppers report making a purchase at a marketplace, according to the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Study. Reaching these consumers everywhere can prove problematic for smaller establishments.

UPS Marketplace Shipping makes selling on multiple marketplace platforms easier. It lets merchants view, process and ship orders from multiple e-commerce marketplaces and web stores using a single online tool.

It offers customized shipping services, management of transaction from multiple sales sites and faster e-commerce transactions to small businesses that can’t afford to be on multiple marketplaces.

In alignment with 20 marketplace platforms, including Amazon and Etsy, marketplace shipping provides a seamless shipping process so smaller businesses can stay organized and fill orders quickly and efficiently.

Rather than keeping track of several platforms, merchants can simply log in to the UPS Marketplace Shipping site, see all of their orders in one place and get their orders out quickly.

A process that once took hours jumping from site to site and manually entering information takes just a few minutes to complete. Just generate shipping labels for everything, pack and ship.

Returns Manager

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The return rate of online purchases can be difficult to manage and impossible to control – and very costly.

With so many products bouncing off the virtual store shelves, many are boomeranging back. The 30-percent return rate of online purchases can be difficult to manage and impossible to control – and very costly.

Returns can range from 20 to 65 percent of a retailer’s cost of the product sold, a daunting expense for small businesses trying to process and ship those items back.

Several options are available for online merchants seeking seamlessness and less costly returns. UPS Returns Manager offers customers a consumer-friendly returns process online and the ability to print return labels directly from tracking.

Consumers can also print labels for free at any The UPS Store. Merchants can pre-authorize return shipments and keep track of inbound and outbound shipments. No new technology necessary – it all works through the UPS Returns Manager system.

Also, tech firm Optoro offers software that helps retailers and manufacturers manage, process and sell returned and excess inventory. UPS partnered with Optoro to create a reverse logistics solution that optimizes the transportation and disposition of returns for small and large customers.

With so many tools helping small business owners compete in e-commerce, perhaps the old adage holds true: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.

For more information about UPS products for small businesses, visit

Jeremy Melis is Director of Small Business Marketing at UPS.

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