Small Business Mom & Pop Stores are being increasingly pushed out by the big box stores. There is stiff competition for the same customers – and more often than not, it’s the small business that loses out. After putting up a fight, many such small businesses eventually shut shop – unable to fight the big store. But small businesses can and should fight back and reclaim their business. Given below are 15 tips that small businesses can use to fight back.
Yes, there are lots of customers who are drawn to the convenience of finding everything under one roof. But then there will always be customers who don’t prefer the big stores. Your task is to identify and reach out to those customers and give them a supreme experience, thus validating their dislike of the big box.
Here are a few tips you could use in your business.
- Beat them on Service. Realize that you cannot beat the big competitor on price alone. But you can definitely beat them on service. The service you can provide – either yourselves, or through well trained employees – can never be replicated by the big store!
- Arrange for Local or Exotic Products – You cannot find locally made or exotic products at the big store. This is because their buyers from headquarters don’t have the ability to source at a per store level. Their loss is your gain. Go after this business with a vengeance.
- Support local producers – When you source from local producers, they in turn support you. There will be a lot of word-of-mouth when local producers talk good about you.
- Have a Story – And make sure people know it. Have pictures posted around your store! Maybe a picture of the day your first store opened. Maybe you sitting at the counter for the first time. Let your customers feel like they are stepping into a friend’s house rather than a cold commercial environment.
- Know each customer personally – This is another detail that the big stores can’t do. You on the other hand can and should know each customer by name. The more you know about them the better it is for you. Learn about what they do, what their hobbies are, about their children etc. File it away in a folder for quick reference – and keep the folder in the back room.
- Learn why they support you – You must find out from your customer why they support you. And what they dislike about the big store. Is it proximity to where he lives? Is it the timings you offer? Is it convenience of some kind? Does he like your product selection or arrangement ? Or the music you play? Or the fact that there are no announcements in your store that bug him? Learn this and exemplify it.
- Allow customization of orders – People like to buy non-traditional amounts or types of produce and other stuff. Big box stores need special permission – if they can do it at all – before you can buy something not in the package. You on the other hand, can give away single items or packages – in any number to your customers. Just make sure you are not making a loss doing this.
- Offer loyalty discounts – Customers like to come back for discounts being offered on something that they have purchased in the past.
- Create a Customer List. Get their phone numbers, and email addresses. Send them personal customized emails to bring them back into the shop. Automate the above and you are golden.
- Offer treats in the shop. Treat your customer’s children royally – and they will love you for it.
- Be truthful to your customer. If a particular item is past its expiry date – or the fashion is not trendy any more, be truthful – and tell them about it. Lt the customer know that you are watching out for her.
- Participate at local functions – Be visible. When there are events going on, make it a point to appear on stage and have a short talk. You may also offer a time-bound discount for ” participants of the event coming to your shop today and tomorrow”.
- Donate – Help out local people who you may have heard are not doing well. You can donate in cash or kind. When the word gets out about your charity – there will be a general feeling of good-will that’ll be beneficial for you.
- Take Leadership – There are myriad causes that need leadership and help in your area. Are the roads dug up and travel difficult? Is there too much violence in your part of town? Is there any other pressing issue that is in the minds of the people? Commit yourselves to the cause. Take responsibility to achieve something for the cause. Those that benefit from your actions will spend money with you.
- Special Orders – How about stocking and providing bulk quantities or customized material for your customers? You can take their order ahead of time and provide very specialized service.
- Check with suppliers – When a customer comes in with a special request, don’t say No. Tell them you will check with your suppliers and get back to them. – And do it.
Bonus tip: In many countries, local businesses can force politicians to pass laws against the number and types of big business in their town. Use your long standing in such localities – and your good name cultivated over the years – to block proliferation of big box stores.
About the Author : Deep Janardhanan is a marketer, business coach and lead acquisition specialist. He works with SMEs to help them grow multifold in a short period of time. If you like what you see here, please link to us.
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