Finding Success in the Midst of this Small Business Revival
Think your small business can’t compete in a retail landscape dominated by big-box stores?
Wal-Mart, Target and other major players arena have been successful over the last thirty years largely because they saw a niche and filled it. They exist to provide reliable access to generic consumer goods at low prices. But not every customer is in the market for mere commodities, and the best customers are not those who are buying on price. In fact, with the dramatic increase in Internet commerce seen in recent years, and the rise of mobile computing, mom-and-pop shops who offer boutique goods and services have never been in a better position to harvest some of that discretionary cash consumers have been saving by purchasing their everyday needs at rock-bottom, big-box prices.
By establishing a website and solid online presence, smaller shops can now literally serve customers around the world. Just as importantly, the Internet offers a way to retain loyal local customers who may have been forced to move away due to family obligations, job changes, or a countless number of other scenarios. For their part, customers have been quick to seize the opportunity. Internet sales now account for nearly 16 percent of all retail spending and continue to trend upward.
So, what are the keys to finding success in the midst of this online small business revival?
It All Begins with Great Products and Great Service
This much hasn’t changed. Online or in-person, customers want to find value and be treated well. Use your ability to deliver personalized service and higher-end, boutique goods as your unique selling point. Not only will you be delivering something the big-box stores simply can’t, but also be attracting high-quality customers who are motivated to buy.
Make Sure Your Website Looks Professional and Functions Smoothly
Your website is the Internet equivalent of your storefront, so make sure it impresses. Keep it updated with new, fresh, and relevant content. If you’re worried that you have no idea how to create, or where to even start with designing a website, there are services that will build your website for you, like PowerSites. Be sure to have photos of your storefront, staff, products offered, testimonials from customers and your business info. Use your website, as an outlet to tell your business’s story.
Think Customer Engagement
Building community is key in today’s online marketplace. Simply putting up a static website and waiting for the sales to come rushing in won’t cut it. Be sure to engage your customers through major social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Also, consider hosting a blog on your website. Customers and search engines both love content marketing, so these practices will help get you found online.
Bulid an Email Marketing List
This is crucial. Your best customers will always be the ones who invite you to show-up in their their inbox. Offer a giveaway, special discount, or some other incentive to visitors who are willing to opt-in to your mailing list. Then follow-up by reaching out proactively to these highly-motivated buyers from time to time with insider news or special offers. It’s a great way to keep your loyal customers engaged, and the potential to turn first-time customers into returning customers.
For small business retailers, going online can be the great equalizer in the never-ending competition with the big-box stores. Yes, they can offer cut-rate pricing and a wide variety of generic consumer goods, but that’s probably not your niche anyway. After all, you have a high-value customer base to get out there and serve.
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