It's not easy for a small or medium-sized business to compete with the big box store. Yes, despite a widespread belief that the small business is the backbone of America, more and more are being regularly put out of business by large stores or chain shops.
So how can a small business compete with the big boys?
We've put together seven things they should be considering to stay competitive in the ever-changing retail landscape.
How to Compete with the Big Box Stores
- Have an eCommerce presence:
Yes, having an eCommerce platform is crucial to a business these days, regardless of size. One way the big box stores have stayed so viable is by reducing their less popular items from store showrooms and only offering them online.
But the bottom line is that people want to shop when they want to shop - and this isn't always during normal business hours. What's more is eCommerce platforms allow for consumer convenience while shopping and can help expand a business' customer base.
- Be niche:
One way to stay viable is by offering products that consumers can't get just anywhere. Fasteners are a good example of such a product.
While they're available elsewhere, by specializing in this niche, you establish your business as the go-to and leader for these products rather than a big store that sells all types of hardware.
- Offer superb customer service:
What's one big complaint that many people have about big box stores?
They're so big that they offer poor service. You can counter this by offering personal, superb customer service. Great service keeps customers coming back for more.
- Quality is everything:
One way that big box stores often beat smaller, independent businesses in price is by offering fewer quality products. Make sure that you're communicating to your current customers and prospects how high-quality your products are and how they differ from the stuff that the "other guys" are selling. It helps justify the higher price.
- Get personal:
People like doing business with small businesses because they feel like they have more of an opportunity to connect and interact with the owner and staff. So get personal.
Tell your story. Communicate your company values. It'll likely be embraced and reciprocated in the form of business from your clients.
- Market to your customers:
Smart marketing is everything, and an eCommerce presence gives your company a great opportunity to market to a greater customer base. Schedule social media ads, keep an updated email list to regularly communicate with current customers and prospects, run print and digital ad campaigns in relevant business-to-business publications.
The marketing opportunities are plentiful and wide-ranging based on your budget.
- Offer a rewards program:
Rewards programs are somewhat of the gift that keeps on giving. You can work programs in various ways, but the most common method is to reward consumers with points based on dollars spent that they can eventually use toward a purchase.
Rewards programs can help build customer loyalty and serve as a nice value-added offering.
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