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NEW REPORT: Online Sales Have Outsized Impact on Rural Small Sellers

As found in our previous survey of two thousand American SMBs, small businesses are adaptable and find customers everywhere – brick-and-mortar stores, seller-branded online shops and online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay.

We recently took this research a step further with a comparative study on small rural sellers. In this study, we compared how rural sellers are similar to and different from the U.S. national average. 

Our findings both affirmed and deepened our understanding of the unique rural commerce environment. 

These findings included:

  • There is no one-size-fits-all solution for small sellers’ commerce. All sellers use online and offline sales methods, and every method fosters competition. For example, Amazon’s marketplace may be the most popular among small sellers, but other marketplaces are almost as popular – and the vast majority of Amazon sellers also sell on other online marketplaces.
  • Rural sellers prefer “online first” sales methods. Rural sellers report preferring online web stores (36%) and marketplaces (33%) to traditional brick-and-mortar and wholesaling, which are the most popular methods among small sellers generally.
  • For rural SMB sellers, online revenue comprises 56% of total revenue. Online marketplaces comprise 23% of rural SMBs’ total revenue.
  • Among rural sellers, marketplace competition is fierce. When asked about their online marketplaces, rural sellers identified Amazon as their top option (33%), followed by eBay (30%) and Etsy (24%).
  • Rural sellers that use more sales methods report being more optimistic about the future. Compared with those using just one or two sales methods, rural sellers using 6-8 sales methods report being 80% more likely to be confident about their business growth over 3-5 years.

Like all small sellers, rural sellers benefit from the rigorous competition and broader customer base supported by online marketplaces and web stores – and without these tools, these businesses would pay a disproportionate price. Read the full report here.

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