3 Ways Small Retailers Can Compete During the Holidays
If you’re a small retailer, chances are you’ve been anticipating the holiday season all year long. From budget setting and preparing inventory to hiring seasonal staff, much of the last nine months of planning has led up to this. But how can you compete with the big guys?
Even the best-laid plans going into the holiday can seem futile in the shadow of the big guys. You know who they are. Amazon and Walmart top the mighty list of omnichannel giants. And whether you’re an online retailer or you have a brick and mortar store, the sheer size and volume of these retail monoliths always looms.
The advantages of the big guys are clear. They offer the ultimate in convenience, speed, and product breadth. Their prices are low, and their hours of operation high. And for many shoppers today, those perks are all they need. This type of retail transaction is certainly straightforward and simple. But for a good number of people, the experience also leaves something to be desired.
Here are three major ways you can compete with the big guys this holiday season – by capitalizing on all the things they don’t offer:
1. The Local Advantage
Small businesses have an edge when it comes to capturing local shopping dollars. Regional promotions, word-of-mouth advertising, and community involvement marketing go a long way in attracting nearby customers. Local, family-owned businesses, in particular, can take advantage of the relationships and loyalty they have fostered over the generations.
Small retailers can partner with local businesses and chambers of commerce to learn about unconventional and inexpensive ways to increase store traffic during the holidays. Get into local shopping guides, participate in special regional activities, and sponsor community events. Just a little bit of exposure and goodwill goes a long way at the local level for keeping your business top of mind for consumers.
2. The Retail Experience
There really is no replacing the shopping ‘experience.’ The stimulation of all five senses upon entering a store. The feeling of discovering a unique find or a fantastic deal. And perhaps most importantly – the good old-fashioned customer service that has you leaving the store feeling great, wanting to share the experience and eager to return.
As a small retailer, you can up the ante and stay ahead of the experiential retail trend by getting creative with your physical space and generating buzz around the store experience itself. Letting customers interact with your products in-store in unique and memorable ways elevates the shopping experience and creates a level of engagement that can’t be replicated online or at the typical big-box retailer.
According to Salesforce’s 2019 “State of the Connected Customer” study, the following five elements have been found to guarantee the best in-store customer experience: interactiveness; originality; connectedness; unexpectedness and reliability. In other words, an extraordinary experience.
It’s clear shoppers still crave the retail store experience. According to a recent infographic from SCORE, 55% of online shoppers prefer buying from retailers with a physical store presence vs. buying online only. And studies show that Generation Z prefers shopping in physical stores, citing the immediacy, enjoyment, and concerns about online data privacy as key factors.
3. The Personal Touch
Despite attempts to connect more meaningfully with customers, large retailers just can’t offer the level of personalization small, local retailers can. This is especially true during the holidays when shoppers often have more special requests and urgent needs.
To get the most out of their local retail experience, many customers are interested in engaging and sharing these wants and needs. If this interaction is positive, it is often the tipping point to a sale. Train your seasonal employees to pay attention to the informational cues that consumers readily provide and follow up with related questions.
Then, go the extra mile with this data and use retail loyalty software to track what customers purchase and to determine what offers and advertising they’ll respond to. Then reach out to them with tailored offers or specific incentives to keep them coming back.
Get the Capital You Need to Make a Difference
A small business owner may not be able to compete against the reach and efficiency of the big guys, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have ways to capture customers and sales this holiday season. Making sure you prepare for the holiday rush is essential for success, and that includes ensuring you have enough working capital to cover all your bases. Whether that’s investing in new store displays, stocking up on inventory, ramping up on seasonal employees or all of the above, a small business loan or merchant cash advance can help.
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