With the ever-growing shift from Retailer to E-tailer, the entire face of retail has undergone major changes, causing many forms of traditional retail to decrease or disappear in volume and importance. The small retailer category continues to struggle, but those who understand the circumstances, adjust their operations and take action on a consistent basis will thrive and ultimately survive. As a business development specialist, I’ve decided to focus my attention over the next several weeks on Retailers. Specifically, the next several installments of my marketing blog will consist of very practical tactics and strategies all small retailers MUST implement in order to stay competitive…It’s really as simple as that…Follow these steps and you will be successful.
In order to thrive as a small business owner, one must never lose sight of the fact that your number one goal is to please all customers and to recognize certain advantages that come with being in this business. Advantages include:
- Being present and knowing everything going on in store, as well as being able to make all decisions
- Knowing customers and their needs, what products they will buy, the prices they will pay, and hours they like to shop
- Having total flexibility in addressing local marketing and promotional opportunities
Retailers Working Together for a Bigger Voice
One huge advantage that retailers have over E-tailers is that retailers can work with each other (e.g. forming an alliance or association) and their local government to help promote their businesses. This collaboration and assistance does not exist for online stores. Additionally, working with fellow independent retailers, including competitors at times, to develop strategies and programs within your town/city will bring benefits and ensure a healthy small retail environment. Small retailers must become more organized and vocal as a group so that government will be more responsive to its voice and needs. Some ways in which the small retailer association can gain clout with their local government is by:
- Stressing the importance of small retailers in a community, examining the combined dollar impact and the fact that the profits of each business stay in the area rather than get sent back to a headquarters city a thousand or so miles away.
- Each retailer should get to know the elected officials from the areas in which his or her store, as well as home, are located. Then coordinate with fellow members to see that a copy of every newsletter is sent to each official. As the retailer gets to know the official a little better he or she should tell him or her some of the problems smaller retailers are having in the community.
- Influencing legislation to gain support for small businesses may be more complicated. Find someone familiar with local lobbying and campaign finance laws to advise on city regulations. Use as many retailers as possible and as often as possible to reach out to the legislators so that they recognize that this group is powerful and should be taken seriously.
- To enhance overall image, the group should host events and arrange an annual citywide “Small Retailer Day”. The group might also want to get involved in an important high visibility community project such as a children’s hospital or scholarship fund.
- The environment in which a business is in can heavily influence its success. Its streets should be clean, have adequate parking and policing, well maintained buildings, and a low crime rate. Two major programs, BID (Business Improvement Districts) and Main Street Program, are present in the United States and help with these types of improvements.
Please stay tuned for next week’s installment of Small Business Retail Strategies for Success: Tracking and Monitoring Trends and feel free to contact me to explore how I may be able to assist your small business succeed.
Danielle Foley, President – Foley Marketing Advisors