Since the Coronavirus has dramatically impacted the economy, shopping locally has become more popular than ever. Community pages on social media are thriving, listing local businesses, recommending retailers and handymen alike, and suggesting various ways to support small businesses in an effort to help them survive.
However, as much as customers voice a desire to shop local and support their community, the reality often paints a different picture. Money is tight wherever you look and big chains that are able to offer discounts around the clock remain as attractive as always. A recent report shows that more than half of all Kiwis would love to buy local, yet only a third actually makes purchases from their fellow New Zealanders as little as half of the time. So how can small business owners and retailers encourage customers to shop local and avoid losing out?
The problem with shopping local
The main reason for customers to shop anywhere but at New Zealand owned companies or businesses is usually money. Kiwis are generally only prepared to pay up to 5 percent more for quality local products or services. In order to increase that mark-up, business owners have to come up with innovative solutions to convince their customers that spending more and spending local is absolutely worth it.
Availability is another factor that draws people to multi-million-dollar franchises or cheap online retail websites rather than their local alternative. Not only is online shopping a lot more convenient, but the product range often exceeds that of many small stores. The chance of finding online exactly what you need without spending hours of browsing different shops is much higher and therefore more enticing.
Keeping it local
The question small business owners have to ask themselves is: What can my local business offer that online retailers or overseas companies cannot?
The biggest advantage of running a small business is the quality of customer service during face-to-face interactions in store. The feeling a shopper gets as soon as he walks through the door will determine whether he is going to make a purchase or not. Anyone can offer a well-presented range of high-quality products, but the atmosphere around is what makes any business unique and keeps customers coming back for more.
As a local retailer you quite likely know some of your regulars by name and can anticipate what they might be after. Getting to know your audience and their shopping habits will help you cater much better for what they really want. If you can tailor your services to their specific needs rather than trying to sell your hottest product on the shelf you can further enrich their shopping experience and make them feel valued and appreciated.
Find a niche
While large retailers mostly differ in price and current discounts or sales, small businesses often have that little something that makes them stand out from the crowd. Determine what makes you unique and use it to your advantage so that people remember you and cannot help themselves but talk about you to their peers. Word of mouth is still the best advertising you can get, and it’s entirely free.
Having a physical store is definitely the greatest advantage of being a small retailer in regard to customer service. However, in the age of digital technology, having a well-designed, user-friendly and interactive website as well as using a range of other media channels is just as important.
Recent data suggests that the majority of people check out a business website before deciding to pay the store a visit. How well your website qualifies you for further contact or an online purchase is a major factor in how likely you are to capture that local business. If you can offer online purchases in addition to an excellent in-store experience, you will be able to catch your audience where they are most comfortable and boost your potential revenue.
It’s a lot easier encouraging others to shop local when you’re showing them how it’s done. Networking and collaborating with other businesses in your area can give you the boost you were looking for. Host special events together, offer discounts at each other’s stores upon producing receipts from participating retailers, provide freebies and use social media to spread the word.
Most communities now also offer regular networking events or get-togethers for small business owners. Look around on social media platforms for like minded retailers and where the next event is hosted. Worthwhile looking into is also the Business Network International which operates on the basis of referring businesses and developing strategies for word-of-mouth marketing.
If you’d like to get more information on promoting your business and the benefits of doing so online, contact the friendly team at Energise Web today.