The retail headlines are shouting…
“Retail department stores are closing by the hundreds!”
“Online shopping is doing record business!”
“People are shifting their spending to travel, big ticket items, and dining out!”
How can a small business thrive in this shift? Actually, small businesses are suited to do very well, thank you!
Consider one of the leading causes of department store failures is depersonalized customer service. Small businesses surfaces as the perfect shopping alternative to chains simply because of their one-on-one service. Consumers tire of seeking help from scarce and overworked staff, the physical search for centralized POS stations, and the long lines at the return desks in chain stores. A small business might occasionally be light on staff, but when help is available, it is full service with a smile. And that’s very desirable to the business commuter who is stressed and overworked.
For example, the neighborhood shoe store that knows your size, your unique fitting issues, and your personal preferences. What a time saver to be able to call or visit that shoe retailer and know they know what you want and need! Not only do you save time, but you enjoy the shopping experience.
Chains suffer from “the weekend help” and high employee turnover, leaving shoppers on their own to shop their needs and wants – often without success (sales).
In respect to the surge of online business, small businesses once panicked when online business entered retail. It is true that people do try on or test an item at a local retailer (large or small) and may subsequently buy online thereby leaving a small business empty handed and overstocked. In respect to the surge of online business, small businesses once panicked when online business entered retail. It is true that people often try on or test an item at a local retailer (large or small) and may subsequently buy online thereby leaving a small business empty handed and overstocked.But, over time, savvy small businesses have embraced a symbiotic relationship with online retailers. Online sources provide the education consumers seek before entering a local business and the sales are therefore easier to close once they do enter a brick and mortar.
So, why didn’t online selling sites usurp the small business market? How did small businesses regain their traction? The smart ones didn’t throw their hands up in the air and close their doors in anticipation of defeat. They ramped up customer service and took note of preferences.
There’s a lot to be said for the mom & pop. Why else would online retailers put so much effort into any kind of software perks that allow a more personalized user experience? And they don’t take repeat/referral business for granted either as their push for reviews will attest.
And how are online retailers experiencing a surge of success despite that assumption they could never match personal and on-site customer service? How? By doing exactly what successful small businesses pride themselves on – focusing on direct contact with the consumer and asking for referrals.
Yes, reviews are another avenue to encourage repeat/referral business for online and brick and mortar. Because anyone who takes the time to write a review is now invested in that businesses’ success and they are less likely to forget the name and more likely to return to shop. In addition, they have most likely opted in as a subscriber to marketing emails.
It’s a win-win when you offer great customer service.
Small businesses, are you listening?
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