How Local Businesses Can Survive the Rise of Online Shopping

— August 31, 2018

With people increasingly looking to do their shopping online via sites like Amazon, brick and mortar businesses are clearly struggling to survive. But there is still plenty of demand for in-store shopping highlighted by the growth of onsite shoppers in Target stores. The demand is there; you just need to tap into it. Below are a few things a local business can do to survive.

Focus on Customer Loyalty

It’s easier to retain an existing customer than to find a new one. This is even more so if you’re running a local business because you are already limited to a finite number of customers by physical geography.

One advantage local stores have over online stores is the ability to directly interact with the customer. Use this to leave a lasting impression on your customers rather than to engage in price wars. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant. It could be something simple like remembering their names and calling them by it. Or if someone is regularly buying the same thing, you can get them ready as soon as that person enters the store. Little gestures like these make your customers feel special and encourage them to come back for more.

You could also introduce a loyalty program or run regular promotions, such as 30% off all fruits and vegetables after 5 pm, to encourage customers to come again and again to your store.

Make Your Shop an Attraction

There are many things you can do to make your shop attractive to locals. For example, you can create a kiddies area for parents to leave their kids while shopping. Inflatable play areas, toys, and plastic balls don’t cost a fortune, and the parents will appreciate the convenience!

Also, give prominence to local products so the visitors will immediately feel a connection when they visit your shop. From food, handicraft to local delicacies there is definitely something local for you to serve your customers.

Embrace Digital

When you’re competing with online giants like Amazon you need all the help you can get. That’s why it is important to embrace the digital tools available to you to simplify and automate your processes.

You can start by creating a website. It doesn’t cost a lot, it gives you a web presence, and it provides a place to showcase your offers. Next, you can get listed as a local business in Google My Business and Bing Places. It’s free and increases your chance of getting found by new customers.

Furthermore, you can consider creating a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Although they are free to create, you need to spend some time to increase your likes and grow your Twitter followers. They do provide another way for your customers to discover you can reach out to you so ignore them at your peril.

Once the basics are done, you need to consider other systems. POS is a necessity so investing in a good POS solution is a given. You can reap the benefits of inventory management by investing in a good IMS. If you have a considerable number of employees, then a good HR system can provide great insights into the performance of your staff. Consider the pros and cons and don’t hesitate to invest sensibly into systems that can simplify your workflows.

Localize Marketing

Take advantage of your local knowledge for laser targeted marketing. You can advertise in your local newspaper, distribute flyers in your town, run targeted Facebook campaigns focusing on your locality and so on.

Local newspaper ads are usually affordable, and it’s something online business can’t replicate. Although it is possible for online stores to run focused online ads, they don’t usually do that because they cater to a wider audience. This gives you a huge marketing advantage over them.

Conclusion

Online shopping is convenient, but with the right strategy and tactics, there is no reason local brick-and-mortar businesses cannot survive in today’s retail landscape. The demand and the appetite for onsite shopping are there; you just need to tap into it.

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Author: Nishadha Silva

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