Since the advent of the internet, there is no doubt that the world of retail has become a whole lot more challenging. Big players like Amazon are able to sell every product under the sun – and often give a good deal for them. If you run a shop or you are thinking about setting one up, now is not the time to despair. There are some ways that you can fight back against the internet giants.
Of course, you need to have a very clear strategy in place that covers everything from price point and efficiency to service levels and the design of the store. Essentially, you need to find new ways to make your business more attractive to customers. So, let’s look in more detail at the ways in which you can achieve this feat.
Emphasize Speed and Convenience
Even though online retailers have worked hard to cut back on waiting times, they still can’t offer the instant gratification that physical stores can. It is this level of speed and convenience that you need to be emphasizing to show customers that you are providing something more exciting than the online retailers.
However, half of the battle involves getting people into your store in the first place. So, you need to make sure that your marketing strategy makes you visible both in-person and online. People who are shopping on the internet also need to discover your store to give them the opportunity to come directly to you. Another way that stores have found to be useful in battling the big retailers is by offering a click-and-collect service, so perhaps this is something that you could look into doing as well.
Get More Shoppers into Your Location
It is an obvious fact of retail that the more people that you have passing by your store, the more likely it is that they will come in to browse around. If your shop is located in a mall, you could work with your landlord on this. After all, both of you are aiming to get more foot traffic. You could embark on an advertising strategy which is designed to give you more visibility or host some special events in the mall that get people through the doors.
If your shop is located on a high street, you could work with the other businesses in the area, as well as local government and commerce organizations. It is in all your interests to encourage more people to visit the area and do their shopping here. Ultimately, if you create an environment in which creativity is encouraged and ideas flow around freely, you never know what you may come up with together.
Though you may be battling against the internet, this doesn’t mean that you should be foregoing making any technological improvements to your store. First of all, you have the tech that makes the lives of your customer more interesting such as virtual signage, browsing hubs etc. But you should also check out the tech that is going to make your life easier as well such as retail POS software, accountancy software etc. After all, you are in competition with all the other retail stores out there and it may be that embracing items of modern technology is one of the best ways of getting an edge on them.
Provide a Personal Level of Service
One of the other major disadvantages that internet stores have against you is that they cannot provide the same level of personalized service – even though they can offer personal recommendations based on the data that they have gathered etc. So, you and all your team need to work hard to provide a personal level of service to your customers. Perhaps this is by making personal recommendations to them. Maybe it is by getting to know a bit about them and their personal lives. Ultimately, people need to leave your store with a positive impression that encourages them to come back to do more of their shopping with you.
Offer Unique Products
A great way of battling against the price-slashing of the internet giants is by offering a range of products which can’t be found anywhere else. There are a lot of people who are bored with the mass-produced items which can be bought from anywhere and looking to invest in things which are one-of-a-kind. There is a big trend towards handmade products and items which are locally sourced. When you do release a unique line of products, it is important that you market them in the right way so that everyone can see that they can’t be bought anywhere else. It is this sense of exclusivity that will help to give you the edge over the big retailers.
Offer Multiple Payment Methods
Nowadays, people are looking to take utilize a wide range of different payment methods, so make sure that you allow people to pay how they would like. It is getting to the stage where contactless payments and software like Apple Pay is standard. If you don’t offer a range of payment methods, you may find that customers become frustrated and choose to take their business elsewhere. You could also look closer at offering a range of options like partial payments and split payments. This is something that can end up helping out customers who are not able to put up the full fee straight away.
Be Competitive with Pricing
These days, it is quite common for retail stores to offer a price matching scheme to guarantee that a product is not going to be found cheaper elsewhere. And while this is a good strategy in principle, it can end up being a major drain on your profits. This is one of the reasons why you may need to be a little more creative when it comes to pricing your products and coming up with promotions.
Work with your vendors closely to see if there are any ways of lowering the cost of your goods. Another possible option is to consolidate your orders for other items with buyers to get a reduced price. You could also try sending out personalized offers to your customers based on their buying habits. Retail stores are finding out new ways of doing this by offering loyalty cards and collecting customer data whenever they make a purchase. There is no point sending out a blanket offer when you can send out one which has been personalized to each one of your shoppers.
Work With the Internet
Of course, you are battling against retailers which only exist online, but this doesn’t mean that you should completely shun the internet. This is like trying to turn back the tide. Even if you don’t make sales online, you should still have a website which tells people about your store, lists your contact information, and encourages them to come to visit for themselves. Make sure that this is updated on a regular basis to keep it relevant. You should also have a social media presence which gives you the chance to shout about any offers and promotions which you are offering at the moment.
These days, a lot of people are looking for experiences and not just the things that they can buy. So, if you can offer an extra reason to get people through the door, this isn’t going to do you any harm at all. For example, if you have a gourmet food store, you could invite a chef to give demonstrations of the dishes that you could prepare. If you have a clothing store, you could have a fashion show event. Make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to build up to an event like this one so that you can get as many people through the door as possible.
There is no doubt that the internet presents huge challenges to retail businesses or all kind, but this does not mean that these challenges are insurmountable. Using a combination of the techniques listed in this article, you can start the fightback. One of the main ways of doing this is by focusing on the experience that you are going to offer to customers which they cannot obtain online. You can also try offering them products which they cannot get elsewhere but you can’t expect that this alone is going to encourage customers to choose you over the online retailers. You also need to be competitive on price. Even if you can’t match them directly, you can still offer a range of discounts and promotions that make your business attractive to customers.
One of the main positive aspects that you need to highlight is the speed and efficiency that you can give to customers in comparison to your internet competitors. But the final point that is worth reiterating is that you should still embrace certain aspects of the internet shopping experience in order to keep your retail business viable and competitive.