The 7 Most Common Weaknesses of Local Shops
And what we’re all going to do about them.
As we head into the busy holiday shopping season, we’ll see lots of Shop Local messages working to get customers to think about shifting their shopping more to local stores. I want to add another layer, and get rural business owners to think about making Better Local Shopping to hold on to those customers.
This is part of a seven week series on the weaknesses and what we can do about them.
If you’re a local business, you can take these to heart. Make an honest effort to improve in each of these areas over the next 7 weeks. That takes us up to Thanksgiving holiday in the US, Shop Small Saturday, and the final few weeks of holiday shopping everywhere.
If you’re with a Chamber of Commerce or other business organization, you can gather a small group of merchants who want to work on these together. Meet, go over the weakness, brainstorm some ideas, and maybe find ways to share resources and turn them into strengths.
- Weakness 1: Limited Business Hours
- Weakness 2. Poor Customer Service
- Weakness 3. Limited Selection
- Weakness 4: High Prices
- Weakness 5: Dated Appearance or Ugly Buildings
- Weakness 6. Not Marketing
- Weakness 7. Failing the Showrooming Test
Weakness 4. High Prices
Solution: Learn how you compare to other retailers.
It’s a bit of a stereotype that everything costs more in small town stores and less at those big boxes. It’s not always true. (Need some studies to that effect? Start with these.)
Retail stores in the US can use publicly-available retail markup benchmarks. The Retail Owners Institute offers industry benchmark data in a section called Store Benchmarks. They break down industry averages into 51 different retail lines. They give five years of data for Gross Margin Percentage. This is a great start to compare the markups for any retail store. Read this article for more help with markups and benchmarks.
You don’t have to match the price of every national retailer, because you have the advantage of better service and local importance. But don’t every let that be an excuse to be too high on price.
Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor, said, “The reality is you’re going to have to do a better job of displaying and selling it to justify selling it at that higher price. If you do these things, you’ll gain loyal customers who are willing to pay a little more for your product because they appreciate the extra effort you’ve put forth to get it into their hands.”
- Retail’s big split: why big boxes are in trouble and what small town retailers can do - May 22, 2017
- Surprising results in the Survey of Rural Challenges 2017 - May 15, 2017
- Where to find local entrepreneurs online - May 8, 2017
- Where do you find potential entrepreneurs? - May 1, 2017
- How can a municipality support entrepreneurship? - April 24, 2017
- Small town retail trend: shared spaces - April 10, 2017
- A blue Brag Basket - March 24, 2017
- Tiny businesses in storage sheds: a rural economic development tool - March 19, 2017
- Your secret advertising tool: empty buildings downtown as billboards - March 13, 2017
- What businesses work in towns under 500 - March 6, 2017