It is well past the time small retailers should realize that Walmart and Amazon are not the last word in shopping. There is plenty of room to play the game and win. It is just a matter of figuring out which game is worth playing, and what rules best favor their position. Retail is a lot more than a crass, product to currency exchange. The retailers that have allowed things to be reduced to that equation are the ones suffering the most.
Focusing on the minutia of fulfillment is one of the pitfalls that can keep you from reaching your potential. Recognizing the challenge facing small retailers, there are companies, whose sole business is to handle fulfillment details so that you don’t have to. Fulfillment company services include:
Whether your product needs to be delivered next door or half way around the world, product fulfillment is the key to a successful conclusion to the transaction. But you will never reach those happy conclusions if you don’t focus on the other aspects of retail that are make or break. Here are three that should get more attention:
Be the Master of Something
If you want to oust Amazon, you will not do it by taking them on with search. Amazon is not a store. It’s a marketplace. If they don’t sell the item, they will link you up with someone who does. But it is rare to find a Jack of all trades who masters anything. And Amazon is no exception.
That leaves a lot of room in the markets for those who dare to master at least one trade. Product category enthusiasts are not looking for a product emporium. They are looking for product experts. Don’t just sell skateboards. Be the master of skateboard modding. Everybody sells skateboards. Be the master of something. And niche enthusiasts will pick you over Amazon every time.
Make It Up with Customer Service
No matter how well you do at mastering your category, there will be something that you lack. Don’t worry. No one is perfect at everything. Whatever it is you lack, you can always make it up in customer service. A hotel review from 2013 illustrates the fact that service trumps room deficiencies.
The impact of customer service on customer lifetime value is enormous. In some ways, it is better to solve a customer’s problem than it is to never have a problem to solve. Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking that there are no problems just because the customer hasn’t mentioned anything in particular. There are always issues.
Part of the genius behind those who master customer service is their ability to get the customer to open up about small issues before they become big issues. Find the problem while it is small, and delight your customer by solving the problems they were barely aware they had.
Give Them Other Reasons to Stop By
Obviously, you want people to come to your store to buy things. But not everyone who is out for a stroll is there to spend money that day. This is especially true online. In the brick-and-mortar world, Apple is one of the best in the business. People show up to play with the latest tech hardware, make a video, and update their Facebook status.
All of the machines are powered on and connected to the Internet. They are even loaded with the latest and greatest apps, games and music. People are encouraged to play with everything and browse as much as they like. There is never any pressure to buy. By May of 2015, Apple stores were generating over $5,000 per square foot, more than any other brand.
People do not surf the Web primarily to buy things. Therefore, you have to provide other reasons for them to click your link. You can be the provider of specialized information, offer a hassle-free environment for casual gaming, or be a resource for helping people find the answers to questions on matters in which you have expertise.
Bottom line: Amazon is not going anywhere. But there is still plenty of room for you to work. Master something. Make up for deficiencies with excellent service. And give them other reasons to stop by.