Modern small town retail hacks:
Technology is the tool to level the playing field for small town retailers. Here are ways smart small retailers are getting ahead.
- 7 Big retail tricks that small town stores can use
- 10 Ways to use an iPad or Android tablet in retail
- How small businesses can beat the big boxes: be nice
- How small town stores can start subscription box services and reap extra sales
- How Siri can help small town businesses make more sales
The 7 Most Common Weaknesses of Local Shops
What I see as the top 7 most common weaknesses of small town shops. The more we (local businesses) work to improve in these areas, the more we can make local shopping better and earn the new-found local loyalty of our shoppers.
- 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
7 Biggest Strengths of Local Shops
The 7 Weaknesses of Local Shops were crazy popular because they touched a nerve. This series is the flip side of that idea. Small town stores have strengths, too. Our best local shops know a lot about customer service and community, and every business would be wise to learn from our strengths.
- Get to know you
- Make customers feel loved
- Fewer layers
- More flexible
- More knowledgeable
- Benefiting the local community
Trend watching: Small is Beautiful
“Consumers are increasingly spending at small businesses,” the MasterCard SpendingPulse™ for Small Business said. Far from an isolated example, they called it a “general consumer trend to shop small.” They’ve reported on this trend in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Humorist David Sedaris summed up this consumer feeling in an interview:
“I’d rather go to an actual shop — preferably a small one — than to a harshly lit superstore, or, worse still, a website,” Sedaris said. “I don’t want to buy my books and my toilet paper and my clothing all under the same roof. I want beauty in my life. I want charm. I want contact with actual people. It is, for me, a large part of what makes life worth living.”
As a result of this large and long-lasting consumer trend, big box retailers are getting smaller. They’re trying to be like small retail businesses.
Sheri Bridges, director of Wake Forest University’s retail marketing center, explained the national trend. “Small is a big idea nowadays. There is definitely a trend to a smaller footprint,” she said. “Best Buy calls it ‘community-oriented retail.’”
Charles Wetzel, CEO of the Fort Worth-based Buxton Group, said, “Quite honestly, a lot of retailers have come back to the customer service days where the customer feels loved. If you can win on service, even if a product is online, people will come. They enjoy the entertainment factor of shopping in the store.”
Consumers are tiring of the sheer amount of merchandise at big box stores, James Dion, president of Dionco Inc., a retail consulting firm based in Chicago said. “We know that when customers are confronted with too much choice, they don’t make a choice,” he said.
Retail Owner’s Institute noted the trend, and said “today’s customers are hungry for exactly what specialty retailers can provide.” They cited small retailers’ skills with edited selections, knowledgeable sales and service, responsiveness, and human scale.
News reports on this trend:
- 2016: Southwest Times Record (Walmart’s ‘hometown’ paper) Walmart’s first-ever sales drop marks the end of an era
- 2016: Chase (Financial) is trying to make sense of the mixed economic messages. I noticed that includes small retail is still faring better than big retail.
- 2015: Smart Company from Australia: Millennials are forcing fundamental change and big retailers will be left in their wake
- 2015: Chain Store Age admits Mom and Pops are cool again
- 2014: Wall Street Analysts Predict The Slow Demise Of Walmart And Target
- 2014: BBC News reported that changing consumer behavior is driving huge UK retailer Tesco to build smaller shops in city centres.
- 2013: Business Insider: The Era Of Giant Chain Stores Is Over
- 2012: Fort Worth Star Telegram, Retail chains thinking outside the box
Shift Your Shopping 2015 series:
How independent retailers can band together and go through the holiday season with a consistent focus on community, meaning, and shopping local.
- Picking your Holiday 2015 marketing theme
- Set your cover photos
- Spotlight a local business
- Spotlight on community
- Share the causes you care about
- Support your service providers
- Small Business Saturday
- Tell your founding story
- Tell your customers’ stories
- Introduce your people
- Share your family traditions
- Thank your customers
Our whole retail category
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