3 Local Marketing Tips for Small Retail Business Owners
How To Build Your Small Retail Business
Even when our economy is buoyant, running a small retail business profitably these days is difficult. Compared to just 10 years ago, the retail landscape has changed so much, and not in favour of the traditional high street shops or local small stores. In particular there have been a number of significant shifts:
• Supermarkets and DIY stores are getting bigger and bigger, with new stores stocking virtually everything any home needs! Huge choice, low prices and all in one place.
• Supermarkets have opened lots of local smaller “express” stores
• Pound stores and bargain shops have exploded
• Out of Town shopping complexes have overtaken the high street
• Online shopping has exploded
For all of the above reasons, running a profitable small retail outlet is getting harder and harder every day.
How can you compete with the supermarkets, pound stores and online revolution?
How can you make your business stand out? What can you do differently to make a visit to your shop memorable?
What can you do to draw customers in through your door?
What can you do to make sure they want to come back and spend with you again and again?
Here are 3 ideas that will help you differentiate your business, build loyalty and grow your sales…
1. Let Your Customers Choose The Items You Stock
If you’re a small retailer looking to differentiate your business, your competitive advantage will have to come from something other than competing on price, because you won’t have the volume to be successful with the latter strategy.
So instead of you stocking what you think your customers will like or need, why don’t you let them choose?
Being in business is about satisfying the needs of your targeted market. What better way can there be of doing that than letting them show you exactly what they like and need, so you can supply it?
Think about the benefits of involving your customers…
If your customers choose your stock it should sell well shouldn’t it? If they know they’ve been involved in selecting your stock lines, you will be their first port of call whenever they need the type of product you offer! By involving them intimately with your business they will feel obligated to buy from you ahead of your competition.
Consider having “Preview Nights” where over a glass of wine your customers review potential new product lines and give you their opinions; you get to know your clientele and even more importantly get to understand what they like and what they’re looking for!
You could then hold invitation only launch nights when the new ranges arrive in store.
Think about it some more… instead of the usual retailer’s greetings “can I help you” or “is there anything in particular you are looking for?” to which the stock answer is “no I’m only browsing”, you could instead discuss with your walk-ins how your clients help select your stock and tell them about the exclusive new range launch nights, and then get their email addresses or mobile numbers so that you can tell them about future events.
Can you think of a better way to do regular market research and collect contact details all in one go?
More to the point why would you not try it as it costs very little to do?
Secondly, how many of your competitors are doing it? None? Even more reason to give it a go to build a competitive advantage!
Look at what you sell the most of; look at what your competitors are stocking and look at what’s hot in your market and then produce a slideshow or a photo collection for your review evening to see which is most popular with your customers… it’s that easy!
2. Create A Loyalty Scheme
Another great way to build a long term relationship with your customers to keep them coming back is to create a customer loyalty scheme.
Loyalty schemes are also a great way to build contact lists. All you need is a simple membership card that every walk in can complete whilst in the shop.
Loyalty schemes work! Why do you think all of the supermarkets, large retail stores and petrol stations use them? Because they do what they say on the tin!
My barber hands out a simple card where I get every 6th cut free … it works, I keep going back to get my card stamped and so does everyone else!
Offer discounts, special events and even offer free gifts if you have left over stock. The important thing is you collect as many customer details as you possibly can to build a valuable asset. Too many retailers simply let people walk in and out of their stores without a clue as to who they are or what they were looking for, never to see them again!
Loyalty, or even better “Membership” cards are very cheap to introduce and very effective.
3. Hold Competitions and Prize Draws
Again as with the first two ideas, Competitions and Prize Draws are simple to do and inexpensive to implement. They are great ways to collect customer details and a great reason to keep getting in touch with your list of contacts.
Simply choose a prize or prizes, and then hand out entry tickets at the door as people come in and collect them as they leave. All you need to request is an email address or mobile number.
Hold one every month and build your list so that you can keep drawing customers and leads back in to shop.
The real power comes when you combine all three of these tactics. Hold Stock Preview Evenings, create Special Membership Schemes and run regular Competitions and Prize Draws and your client base will grow quickly!
Adding the personal touch in the three ways discussed above will give you a competitive advantage that larger stores and brands can’t compete with.
When you create loyalty, make your customers feel special and provide exactly what they are looking for and need, you’ll also be able to charge a premium rather than trying to compete by being the cheapest!
For lots more tips and advice take a look at my Marketing Blueprint. In particular I’ll show you how to combine the 3 ideas with the latest Techology to really explode your contact lists and sales!