In a world, where two giants are grabbing an ever-larger share of the global retail market, how does the small store owner find salvation?
Witnessing the regular closing of local retailers and distributors, it may be difficult to spot the lifeboats that will save them from drowning. Brick-and-mortar establishments appear particularly vulnerable. Their current sales and profits are at best flat or significantly diminished, while Amazon’s and Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms rocket forward at phenomenal 20% growth rates. According to the Economist, e-commerce sales in 2016 were a modest 8.5% of global retail activity. In America, the share is forecast to increase from approximately 10% in 2016 to 16.6% by 2021. With their huge network of fulfillment warehouses, the big players are on target to monopolize an ever-greater share of retail business.
But small businesses have a history of dealing with bigness in the past and need to apply new strategies, which will allow them to compete. This is where digital marketing companies can come to the rescue of the smaller retail players to provide the kind of solutions that can turn any retail outlet into a powerhouse of data-driven customer retention, and new client conversions.
Customer and Store analytics – Modern retailing is all about the conversion of data into actual store sales. Detailed analysis of customer preferences and behavior patterns ensure that the products and services on offer are matched to the actual needs of the clients. Digital marketing offers the same kind of sophisticated, data-driven tools to each store owner that is utilized by the giant retailers. By attuning your business to feedback from loyal customers, you can make your products/services more attractive and pertinent to specific needs. Maintaining well- balanced store inventory levels, which are attuned to turnover statistics, helps to reduce costs.
Keeping your customers in the loop – Through technology, the customer receives up-to-the-minute information about their store’s latest products, matched to their past purchasing preferences. Timely notifications prompt them to move your store to the top of their preferred retailer list through timely communications. This avoids established customers passing up the store when they are shopping in the neighborhood for products that the store normally keeps in inventory.
You don’t need to be a recognizable brand – The new generation has grown to trust peer reviews, and blogs on the internet and social media more than advertising on old media like television and radio. Digital marketers make it financially possible for small retailers to develop digital marketing tools on their websites, Google, Twitter, and Facebook to attract the millennial generation to their products and services. It can also help to target the older generation through local newspaper ads, radio, and television, after performing a benefit to cost analysis.
Promotional Store Kits – Banners, fliers, advertising specialties boost the store experience and help retain loyal customers. This helps store owners to make the right choices in-store promotions to ensure that their loyal and new customers are treated as VIPs. You can also make the store visit more enjoyable by introducing some form of visual entertainment. This is particularly suitable around the major holidays but can be extended to almost any day of the week. Make the store visit fun for the whole family.
Re-targeting your loyal base– It is very useful to define who the real loyal customers are, and what it takes to maintain their allegiance. Statistics show that, on average, these super customers represent 50% of total store sales. This very significant contribution usually comes from only 10% of the customer base. So keeping these super loyal fans satisfied and motivated should be a high priority for the store sales team.
Offer unique products and services – be more selective on design and features, and choose those that are not easily duplicated. Unique local products are always a good bet to attract foot traffic. Also, products and services that are difficult to sell on the internet, without some human input, overcome the wider selection and delivery advantages of e-commerce.
Motivate customers to choose value over price – promote your business’s experienced personnel, personalized service, knowledge, and unique culture. The ability to touch-and-feel products still matters for a large segment of the population. Interaction with pleasant and helpful employees enhances the buying experience.
Get the government to listen – The giants of retail consolidate their activities efficiently around high-tech and artificial intelligence, which requires far less human power. Levels of employment are a key economic consideration for any political party. Antitrust challenges have been successfully deployed in the EU, and have curbed predatory practices by large internet companies. Using local and national small business associations to lobby for better regulations is a battle worth undertaking.
Become part of the modern delivery logistics – Many small distributors and manufacturers are using local store hubs to deliver their products for pick-up. The last stretch of any delivery is usually the costliest because it requires both a small truck and driver to make it happen. Having clients pick up their packages at a local store reduces the cost and speeds up the delivery. Your store can charge a small commission that can boost revenues.