Small retailers see themselves as under siege, and many just hunker down and work harder to survive, for many, it is too hard.
For those that survive, some are doing really well, and there seems to be a few common themes. Few are doing them all, but all seems to be picking one or two and really delivering:
- They treat the shopping experience as an occasion, they set out to deliver to their customers fun, social acceptance, an opportunity to express themselves, deliver serendipity, information, and advice to their customers. In short they are not there to flog product, they are there to provide a service, which happens to involve customers buying stuff.
- They carve out a niche, something distinctive, and set out to “own” it, at least in the local area. A friend of mine runs a small retail business, “Affordable Decor” in suburban Croydon on Sydney. It is a small store, set away from the main roads and shopping centres, but it is unique, a reflection of Maureen’s great eye and her connection to her customer base that comes from across Sydney.
- Digital capability is almost table stakes, if in no function beyond inventory management, retailers need to be digital capable. My mate Maureen down the road in Affordable Decor does not have anything digital in her store, everything is still pen and paper, there is no website, (despite my pleading) but there is a really focused program of text messaging to her cohort of loyal customers.
- Mobile friendly is evolving as a real differentiator. A huge proportion of customers and potential customers connect using mobile, so being there is fundamental.
- Big data gets all the publicity, but what about Small data? Successful small retailers are in a position to know the details, small data, of their customers likes and dislikes, successes and failures on a personal level. It is this intimacy with customers that big data cannot hope to match, for all its great value.
For those small retailers reading this post, how are you doing?
Need someone to talk to who undestands the challenges?