The increased importance of local publisher inventory

In these corona times, many business owners try to think differently about how they can continue to make business happen. As social distancing is a primary weapon to fight the virus, online commerce seems to be on everyone’s lips, and for good reason. In this short post we argue that publishers, and especially local news publishers, can play an important and positive role in facilitating continued operations for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

SMB are online ready; What about distribution?

We see increasing activity from small businesses offering online purchases. And while we’ve had problems finding statistics that more widely support the claim, we can at least get some sense of what is happening by looking at ecommerce software providers focusing on SMBs, and their revenue growth. Looking at the performance of Shopify for instance, it is clear that SMBs are increasingly ready to sell online.

But are publishers ready to facilitate the distribution of SMB’s value proposition? Technology giants like Facebook and Google put much attention in enabling small businesses to advertising with their platforms, but we also see that many publishers are lagging behind in creating the same value proposition. Now that local businesses need attention online more than ever, we believe that both ends could create great value by facilitating a more scalable and user-friendly way to advertise online.

You can read in a separate post how we enable more companies to get in on the self-service action, without each having to invest lots of money in creating their own self-service portals.

One idea for the road

Since we have a channel for bothering you with all our ideas, here is one that we have not thought through at all.

Many local newspapers have a valuable asset that not many others can replicate so easily: physical distribution of paper. And while many local businesses can sell online, they still need help with getting their merchandise to the buyer’s front door. For those of you publishers who still deliver papers yourself: can you mobilize your existing distribution network to facilitate the delivery process for small businesses? If you can, it would definitely set you aside from Facebook and Google.