Every day, small business retailers feel they’re fighting a war on two fronts: 1) being bludgeoned by the Big Box anchored around the corner, while 2) simultaneously being mugged by an online competitor floating around untethered in the clouds of cyberspace. So how do small traditional establishments go to war with these two formidable opponents? The answer is short and sweet: They don’t.
Here are a couple of quick points about defending your traditional retail small business:
1. Prospects of your small retail business are the least likely prospects for a Big Box. The feeling that makes customers prefer the comfort of customization and connection to being overwhelmed by size is so compelling that they will choose you and pay the price you have to charge to fulfill this strong emotion. But you have to deliver on this emotion with the offense of value instead of acting defensively - like being seduced into a price war. Remember, the price war is over, and you lost.
2. These same prospects are increasingly demanding that the companies they do business with provide them with online capability. Small brick-and-mortar retailers don’t have to conquer the e-commerce world, but they do have to have a presence there.
In summary, you can beat the Big Boxes primarily by just not trying to be them. But the only way to stay competitive with the online assault is by incorporating an online strategy with your traditional model, which means a website at a minimum - at least e-shopping, if not an e-commerce component - plus the methodical collection of customer contact information, serving a periodic connection strategy to stay top-of-mind.
Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about the future of small business retail with Darlene Quinn. Darlene is a journalist, the author of Webs of Power and a member of my Brain Trust.
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to our conversation and be sure to leave your own thoughts about small business retail in the 21st century. Listen Live! Download, Too!