It’s Cyber Monday. Online retailers are some of the toughest competitors for small businesses. While it’s easier to compete with local box stores because most businesses are highly in tune with their offers and their products/services, it’s becoming increasingly harder to stay competitive with online shopping. They offer convenience because they’re always open, and many provide free shipping, which means shoppers can purchase at no extra cost to them. Customers who buy online even save gas money and the headache of crowds and finding a parking space.
How do you compete with that?
Local businesses may have a hard time competing directly with the Amazons of the world so they need to play up what they do best.
Building on the Success of Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday likely helped your member businesses build great momentum and get known on a larger level. Now these businesses need to build on that momentum:
- Tell their story. It’s difficult for big cyber retailers to tell a compelling story in the same way a local business can.
- Teach their specialty. A small business owner likely has a passion and knowledge of what they do. They can share expertise that you can’t get from large, online retailers.
- Make suggestions. Have you ever tried to get ahold of someone from a large, online megastore? Sometimes it’s easy but most times you wait in queue after queue pressing numbers and listening to music until you’re about to lose your mind. A local business is there to answer all sorts of questions and make suggestions on things you can use to improve the experience. A local store is likely to tell you if something is not for beginners or if you need to purchase additional products before you achieve what you’re looking to do.
- Add value. Someone who wants to get in shape can order an exercise DVD online or you can go to a gym/professional trainer. The benefit of the latter is accountability. You’re likely paying a similar amount in the first month of use but you’re getting more from the professional. You’re getting tips on nutrition, the right pose to maximize what you’re doing, and helpful suggestions for modified exercises should you injure something or have a weakness that needs to be accommodated for. Small businesses need to find ways to call attention to that kind of value and the personal relationship. But they need to make sure their value proposition is of value to the consumer.
While competition with the internet is tough, it’s not a lost cause. There are many people out there who are looking to support the small business with a good heart. It’s very chic to pay more for products from a company like Toms (Shoes). The company has a good story and ethos that people buy into. It’s time your members start building on that momentum and capturing the hearts of their customers.