Why Midmarket Businesses Are Positioned For Ecommerce Success

Occupying a sweet spot between agility and operational sophistication, midmarket businesses are primed for excellent ecommerce results.

By Tom Wintaugh | July 27, 2023
Young woman and business owner of an online fashion shop holding a shipping box



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Midmarket businesses are a key pillar of the U.S. economy, with nearly 200,000 middle market businesses representing a full third of America’s GDP. For ecommerce merchants at this scale, the midmarket perfectly positions businesses to remain agile enough to adapt to changing conditions, while having the resources and operational sophistication needed to transform those conditions into growth, reach, and profit. In this blog, we’ll look at the definition, main challenges, and important growth strategies for selling at this scale online.

How is a midmarket business defined? 

A midmarket business occupies a space between small businesses and large enterprises, based upon the scale of operations, amount of yearly revenue, volume of customer traffic, and overall economic share of a given industry. At its core, the term "midmarket" reflects a strategic balance—pairing the fresh ideas and flexibility of startups with the insight, experience, and muscle of enterprises.  

Revenue: While definitions can vary by industry, in the U.S., midmarket companies typically generate annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion. 

Employees: Mid-size business usually employ between 100 to 1,000 individuals. 

Operational Complexity: Midmarket businesses often have more complex operational and managerial structures than SMB but remain more streamlined than large corporations. This allows these companies to remain agile and able to adapt to market changes quickly. 

What are the primary challenges for selling online at midmarket scale? 

Selling online at the midmarket scale presents distinct challenges that businesses must navigate to achieve success. Here are the five primary challenges:

1. Resource allocation is a balancing act.

When tracking, troubleshooting, and predicting resource needs from raw materials to development time, midmarket businesses have outgrown the entry-level solutions suitable for small businesses, but don’t yet need the overly-complicated systems of large enterprises. Profitable allocation of time, goods, and budget can be achieved by leveraging sophisticated ecommerce platform automations and integrations to weave systems like customer data, order management, and inventory control into easily-managed admin for lean teams. View this on-demand webinar for a deep dive on ecommerce integrations.

2. Managing complex inventory gets harder as the SKU-count grows.

As businesses expand, so does their product catalog. Managing a larger inventory without the warehousing and logistical support of big corporations requires integrating smart WMS and fulfillment systems that afford real-time inventory visibility for internal teams as well as for customers. Reliable availability and tracking info for large, complex orders is essential for driving sales at the B2B midmarket scale.

3. Customer support must be increasingly integrated into the shopping experience to off-set rising demand on resources.

As a customer base grows, so does the need for support. Midmarket businesses must provide excellent customer service for a broad number of buyers and products, but often without the extensive teams of larger enterprises. This involves leveraging various service features into the ecommerce website, such as FAQs/How-To Guides, live rep support, a customer service ticketing system integrated with email requests, and AI/Chatbots when appropriate. Self-service account management can also lower demand on midmarket customer service programs. We wrote about more ways to boost customer satisfaction here.

4. Inflexible, “entry-level” ecommerce solutions no longer cut it.

Basic ecommerce solutions aimed at smaller, less complex businesses typically do not have the flexibility to adapt to more advanced/higher volume business models and shopping experiences. The more a platform can be customized to unique industry and customer needs, the less drain businesses will experience trying to serve a complex catalog of products to a large and varied audience. 

5. Maintaining brand consistency requires juggling more moving parts.

As operations expand, ensuring a coherent, creative, and effective brand identity across all platforms, touchpoints, and types of content becomes more challenging. Tools that enable marketers, content creators, and site managers to easily develop content which aligns with the brand become very important at the midmarket scale, when content needs can become too elaborate for busy or lean teams. 

Click to see how Miva scored in the 2023 Paradigm B2B Combine Report (Midmarket Edition)

Which ecommerce operations are the biggest growth drivers for midmarket businesses? 

There are several areas which can help midmarket ecommerce businesses manage complexity and drive significant growth:

1. User Experience and Website Design:

The more relevant an online shopping experience is for an industry and its buyers, the more a business can distinguish itself from other well-established competitors. As the primary way that most buyers will ever interact with a brand, the ecommerce website is the only way that an audience will be able to see the value of offerings vs. other sellers. Therefore, midmarket websites must be more than just easy to navigate—they must make a succinct case for products while being seamlessly aligned with how unique customers like to shop.

2. Balanced Customer Acquisition and Retention:

Acquiring a new customer is often more expensive than retaining an existing one, so using ecommerce-integrated features to shore up existing business can be a cost-effective revenue protector. Implementing on-site tools to encourage higher customer lifetime value, such as subscription ordering, upselling/cross-selling, and personalized live shopper support, can temper new customer acquisition expenses. We wrote about methods for increasing loyalty and CLTV here.

3. Integrated Technology Systems:

Midmarket businesses can't afford a patchwork of disjointed plug-ins and entry level functionality that may have been feasible when they were smaller. As businesses grow, the need for integrated systems—from ERP to automated marketing tools—becomes more important. These integrated systems streamline operations, reduce overhead costs, and provide the agility required to compete in the marketplace at a higher level of complexity.

4. Inventory Management and Logistics:

Midmarket ecommerce businesses often grapple with a large inventory but may not have the extensive warehousing and fulfillment solutions of big enterprises. That’s where thoughtful ecommerce features can be leveraged to carry more of the weight of tracking inventory data. Efficient inventory management and logistics systems ensure product availability, reduce holding costs, and prevent shortages, and give buyers more real-time visibility into orders.

5. Data Security:

As their catalogs, customer base, and industry presence grow, midmarket ecommerce businesses might find themselves increasingly on the radar of cybercriminals and fraudsters. If handled incorrectly, security breaches can undermine all of the above priorities, via immediate financial impact and long-term brand trust. While larger enterprises might have the resources to weather a data scandal, midmarket businesses may find recovery challenging. Implementing robust data security measures and ensuring compliance not only protects the business and its customers but also enhances reputation in a competitive market. We wrote more about how to assess website security in this guide. 

Midmarket businesses are perfectly situated for the new digital economy.

The unique position of midmarket businesses demands a careful and strategic focus on how to serve an increasingly complex set of offerings to a growing audience. Midmarket ecommerce businesses are well-positioned to offer very dialed in, personalized service at a larger scale than SMBs, striking a balance between sophisticated operations and the agility needed to adapt quickly to changing conditions. By doing so, they can leverage their size and reach to offer services and experiences that are a perfect fit for buyers and the industries they represent. 

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About The Author

Katy Ellquist

Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of ecommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential ecommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.

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Author's Bio

Tom Wintaugh

Tom is a Content Marketing Specialist at Miva.

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