Three Online Services Shaking Up Small Business Operations

Contributed article in our small business series. Enjoy! – Kimberly

It seems that everything can be ordered online today, from a new pair of shoes, to a day at the salon. With digital marketing and sales transforming the way we shop, communicate, and book our services, a business that hasn’t got an online distribution platform runs the real risk of becoming obsolete. While some local newspapers are holding steady, many more are closing down as our news and media consumptions have shifted online to take a new global form. This leaves local businesses in a difficult position, where they have to turn to large-scale corporations to advertise and distribute their services or risk being shut out of the digital marketplace. Consumers want to support local businesses, but don’t know where to turn on a globalized media platform. Here are three businesses in the UK that are shaking up the industry by connecting consumers with local services and professionals.

Plentific

This start-up was founded in London by founders Emre Kazan and Cem Savas, who were frustrated with the time and energy wasted on phone calls, researching qualifications, and securing quotes for simple home repair work. Plentific is a platform for consumers to find a tradesmen online, in their area for any home repair work, such as building, electrical wiring or plumbing. Customers can book a service online and, in certain urban locales, can opt for either a flat fee for a job or request a custom quote. Tradesmen who are available on the service have had their qualifications screened and background checked. Plentific also offers a service guarantee for tradesmen using their platform and will refund the cost of unsatisfactory work.

OpenTable

Formerly toptable, this website allows consumers to reserve a table for a restaurant online. While many restaurants offer a booking service on their own websites, OpenTable organizes these businesses in a single database. The database is searchable by location (including city and neighborhood), restaurant and cuisine, and also includes real-time reviews from other diners. To encourage ongoing business, OpenTable also offers a points system, where diners can collect and spend points at participating restaurants, and special offers and discounts available exclusively through the website.

Just Eat

This online delivery company was founded by Danish businessman Jesper Buch in 2000, and is one of several food delivery services available in the UK. Like MenuLog, it deals with restaurants, but instead of booking a table, Just Eat allows customers to order online from a range of restaurants and takeaway houses across the country via a simple website or app. This means small businesses without large marketing budgets can be connected to a market of hundreds of thousands of users. The food is then delivered to customers, which broadens the potential market for a restaurant who wouldn’t otherwise offer delivery.

For a small business to survive in a competitive internet-based marketplace, they must take advantage of every opportunity available to promote themselves, either with their own advertising or by becoming part of a larger company. Services which allow small businesses to advertise and distribute goods and services looks set to grow well into the future.

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