With online giants like Amazon increasingly vying to take over the retail market, independent store owners need to be better than ever before in order to stay competitive.
Here at Pointy, we work with retailers across the world – from the oldest independent bookstore chain globally in San Francisco to newly-opened bike stores in Dublin – and most companies we work with have embraced this challenge and have continued to experience success. However, others we’ve met have struggled with these difficult problems.
Based on these observations and conversations with some of our top retailers, below are 7 tips for retailers to stay competitive in the coming years:
1. The “local business” card isn’t enough anymore
In theory, everyone loves the idea of supporting local businesses. However, the reality of it is that many brick and mortar stores just don’t match the convenience of large online retailers.
People are becoming more and more used to finding products online and checking what’s in stock at the click of a button.
While local retailers have a huge proximity advantage over online giants, customers are increasingly choosing convenience and the convenience of Amazon compared to most local retailers is second to none.
Stores need to be on par with Amazon online in order to keep up. This includes making sure your store has a proper online presence, ensuring that you’re easily contactable, and having your catalog of in-stock products available for people to find.
2. Go social
Social media has transitioned from being a fad to being a mainstay of any store owner’s strategy.
Independent retailers need to remain in their customers’ mind space consistently. Therefore, having a robust social media presence is essential.
Keeping your customers updated via social media on everything that’s happening in your business helps remind them of what you offer and prompts them to come straight to you when they need to make a purchase next. This is especially important if you’re selling high-value but infrequently purchased products.
3. Get found on Google
One place where the online giants consistently win currently is in their rankings on Google and other search engines.
Currently, most independent retailers rank number one when you search for their store’s name. However, even if someone is 50 feet away from them searching for a product they stock, they find the large players like Amazon and eBay:
Pointy helps solve this problem. As soon as you plug our little box in, we’ll build a page online with all your products.
This means that, for local searches, the results will look more like this:
This ensures that people who are searching for your products nearby can find them, and drives them directly to your store from these searches.
4. Do your homework
With Amazon and others building artificial intelligence engines to figure out what products are going to be successful, it’s essential for store owners to constantly keep ahead of new trends in order to compete.
Dedicating some time each week to researching macro and micro trends in your market will pay dividends in helping to both retain existing customers and acquire new ones. However, knowing these trends isn’t enough. You need to be willing and able to act on them in order to stay ahead of the crowd.
5. Have a better online experience…
Having a robust online experience is essential in this day and age. A simple one-page website with an overview, address and contact details just isn’t enough when you’re competing against giants like Amazon for customers.
Having a live catalog of your in-stock products online not only helps drive new customers to your store but also lets your existing customers check what you have in stock, prompting them to return to your store instead of succumbing to the convenience of Amazon.
6. ..But have an experience you won’t find online
Providing your customers with a truly authentic in-store experience will give your store the upper hand over online giants.
Online shopping is impersonal by its very nature. Little touches like greeting people in a friendly manner, learning people’s names, and offering personal tips and advice on purchases make all the difference and gives you an advantage that online retailers can’t replicate.
7. Keep in touch with customers
Actively maintaining communication with customers throughout the year, even when they’re not actively looking for something, can have huge benefits for stores.
Keeping them informed of hot products, new stock and sales you’re running are great reasons to get in touch and compel them to visit.
Building an email list of visitors that you regularly update is a great way to do this. This is especially important for prompting customers to make spontaneous purchases.
Pointy is a little box that you plug into your POS that automatically builds an online store of all your products.
Click here to learn more about how your store can use Pointy to drive more customers and get found online.