If you run a small, brick-and-mortar business, then you are probably feeling the pressure of the Big Online Store. A remarkable number of customers now prefer to buy online than go to the store. This can be great news for small businesses that do have online stores or buying apps. Unfortunately, the customers want to buy from Amazon or eBay. It’s like Wal-Mart again, but this time it’s online. On the plus side, there are certain techniques small businesses can adapt to remain competitive with giant online retailers. These changes may be a hefty investment, but if done right, your small business just might survive the Amazon craze. Here are several ways your small business can compete with online giants and retain loyal customers:
Focus on Local
An online store can focus on an international customer base. A small, local store should focus on the local customer base. Narrow down your target audience to people who are most likely to purchase from your store. Local outlets can offer customers highly desirable products that they can’t obtain from online retail giants. For example, if a local customer wants to buy a cake, he or she will have to go to a local bakery. Even small businesses that sell non-perishable goods, like clothing, can market directly to a local customer base.
As a small business with a local address, your company has the advantage on Google local search. If a customer searches for “women’s wear” on a smartphone near your business, the mobile search results would prioritize the store nearby. Therefore, re-focus your marketing strategy and go fully local.
Invest in Mobile POS Systems
Most stores have cash register POS systems. Even small online sites have mobile payments. While both these are essential for having a comprehensive payment system that keeps the queue moving, there’s another way to improve convenience for customers. Instead of having the customers move to your cash register, take the cash register to the customer. This is what a mobile POS system does. It combines regular POS software with card reader processing hardware. When you deliver that cake to the local customer, with a mPOS system, you can get a digital payment without a hassle.
Mobile POS systems are convenient for businesses as well as the customer. It eliminates yet another pain point from the transaction process and simplifies it. Your company can offer customer multiple payment options in addition to online payments. These systems are also becoming more affordable for small businesses, as evidenced by SumUp mPOS card readers that charge zero flat rate fees.
Offer Face-to-Face Customer Service
One thing online retailers struggle to provide customers with is face-to-face support. Customer service on sites like Amazon is highly automated. While some aspects of this are convenient for customers, it’s still largely inadequate for complex problems customers may have. This is where local stores can step in. Offer customers long-term support, particularly tech support if applicable, on products they purchase from your business. If a customer buys a smartphone, make it possible to meet up if an employee to discuss a potential issue. This is something extra that online small businesses with physical stores can provide.
It’s not impossible for small local businesses to compete with retail giants. Follow the above suggestions, and see where it leads your business.