Small retailers often face the tough job of competing against big stores that have more resources – more money, bigger advertising budgets, and well-known brands. Don’t worry, there’s still hope. Small retailers can still compete with big box retailers if they focus their efforts. Here are some strategies that can help small retailers compete successfully with larger stores.
Focus on personalized service
One effective strategy for small retailers to compete with larger, big box retailers is to focus on personalized service. Small retailers can move faster and offer in depth service that is hard for larger retailers to match. By getting to know their customers, small retailers can tailor their offerings to meet customers’ unique needs and preferences. After all, studies have found that personalized experiences improve a customer’s satisfaction and improve sale conversions by 10%-15%.
Personalized service can take many forms. For example, independent retailers can greet customers by name, remember their previous purchases, and make recommendations. Point-of-sale software with strong built-in customer management tools can easily help with this. The retailers can also offer a range of services like free gift wrapping, personal shopping assistance, and customization options. In this way, small retailers can create a welcoming atmosphere that makes local customers feel valued and appreciated.
By providing personalized service, small retailers can stand out from larger retailers that often offer a more impersonal shopping experience. Personalized service will lead to loyal relationships with customers. This loyal customer base can be a key advantage for small retailers, as it can help to drive repeat business and generate positive local word-of-mouth referrals.
Small retailers can serve niches
Offering unique and niche products is another way small retailers can compete against big box retailers. While big box retailers typically carry a wide range of products, they often prioritize popular and mainstream items. Small retailers, on the other hand, can offer unique and niche products that are not commonly found in big box stores. According to a study by ComCast, 44% of consumers say they are more likely to shop at a small business if it offers unique products not available at larger stores, so consider how you can serve niche markets in your business.
Stand out from larger competitors and attract customers seeking unique or rare products through niche offerings. For example, a small retailer that specializes in outdoor gear can offer specialty sports products that are not found in big box stores (e.g., custom made mountain climbing shoes).
To offer unique and niche products, small retailers need to identify their target market and understand their needs and preferences. To identify potential products to offer, they can conduct market research, attend trade shows and conferences, and stay up-to-date with industry trends. Additionally, small retailers can partner with local creators and craftspeople to source unique products that are not available elsewhere.
Another advantage of offering unique and niche products is that it can bring in loyal customers who love those products, and they will likely come back to the store and tell others about it. This can help small retailers build a reputation of being a special spot.
Emphasize sustainability and ethics
Small retailers can beat big box retailers by focusing on sustainability and ethics. Consumers today care much more about the environment and ethical business practices. So it makes sense that they’d prefer businesses that share these values.
Small retailers can use eco-friendly packaging, source products from local or sustainable suppliers, reduce their carbon footprint by using renewable energy, and recycle. Customers around the world have expressed that they are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
To keep it going, independent retailers can also prioritize ethical practices such as fair labor and trade, transparency in supply chains, and donating to social causes. Prioritizing sustainability and ethics will help you attract loyal customers who have a deep connection to these causes.
Small retailers should focus on local communities
Independent retailers are an important part of any community. Building a strong local community presence is another way that small retailers can differentiate themselves from big box retailers and compete. Small retailers who engage in their local communities can build relationships with customers, establish trust, credibility, and develop a loyal following.
How can a local retailer get involved? For starters, they can participate in local events and sponsor community activities. These can include: charity events, fairs, sports leagues, or parades. They can also collaborate with other local businesses to promote each other and create a sense of unity.
Small retailers can compete with larger retailers by focusing on personalized service, serving niche markets, emphasizing sustainability and ethics, and building a strong local community presence. By doing so, they can differentiate themselves from big box retailers and attract loyal customers. With dedication, creativity, and attention to detail, small retailers can successfully compete against larger retailers and thrive in the retail industry.
If you’re a small retailer looking to compete against big box retailers, consider using an all-in-one retail point-of-sale system with built-in CRM tools like TAKU. Our tools can help you manage your customer relationships more effectively by enabling you to track customer data, purchase histories, and preferences, to tailor your marketing and promotions to their needs. Learn more by clicking below.
Long line ups in retail stores lower profitability for retailers. In the past year, 86% of US shoppers have left a store due to the frustration of long waiting times to check out. The problem is only getting worse as people have less patience when shopping in store after the pandemic and many retailers are understaffed.
If you want to avoid losing sales, you need to think about how you can speed up your checkout process. Here are 6 tips for faster checkout speeds.
Simplify your checkout process
Reconsider the amount of detail you ask from a customer during your checkout process. While collecting phone numbers and emails are helpful for future marketing, they require proper consent today due to privacy laws. More importantly, having your cashiers ask customers for these details can really slow down checkout and increase customer frustration.
We understand that having customer info is useful for marketing purposes so you should train staff to collect this information only when the store is not busy.
At the same time, add QR codes at the checkout and around the store to encourage shoppers to sign up to newsletters or to follow you on social media. This is a more convenient and faster way for shoppers to agree to receive marketing from you and it doesn’t slow down your lines.
Reduce the checkout routine where possible
During the pandemic, it became more common for retailers to make changes to their normal processes. This is particularly true with checkout processes. As more people pay with credit card that have payment notifications, shoppers have changed their expectations regarding receipts.
If you’re understaffed or you sell products that are not likely to be returned, you can consider training your staff to ask customers if they want receipts after every sale. More and more shoppers are skipping on receipts since they already get payment notifications. This will not only help you save on paper and be more environmentally friendly, it will cut down on precious checkout time.
If you do want to keep track of customer sales history, collect emails and also mobile phone numbers when creating customer profiles. This will give you several ways to market to customers in the future, and it will allow you to associate a transaction to a customer during checkout using a unique nine digit telephone number instead of asking for names or emails which take more time to look up.
Encourage electronic payment
If you tend to have lineups, electronic payments will pay out for you in the long term. While accepting cash means avoiding processing fees, fewer and fewer people carry cash nowadays. The additional tradeoff of slower checkout (perceived worse customer service) and greater human error makes it critical for many retailers to offer different forms of electronic payment.
Make sure that you are using an in-store point of sale system that offers direct card terminal integration. This will help you speed things up even further by eliminating the need for your staff to punch in the invoice amount on the card terminal. This will help you move shoppers through lines faster, reduce human error and the opportunity for employee theft compared to cash.
Keeping up with staff training
One major cause of slow checkout in stores is not enough employee training. Making sure that your staff know how to use your POS system and answer customer questions effectively are key to minimizing delays. This not only affects how quickly you make sales, it significantly impacts the customer experience for shoppers. American Express found in a study that 33% of consumers have considered switching stores immediately after poor customer service.
Have enough store signage
Training staff to answer questions is always crucial but commonly asked questions can be responded to faster with clear signage. Making the checkout process faster not only makes customers happy, but it also helps employees. They don’t have to keep answering the same questions over and over again. Some good examples of this are:
Make sure customers can see what ways they can pay at the front of the store and at every cash register. This way, they don’t have to wait in line and then find out they can’t pay the way they want to. This is particularly true for contactless payments as it’s common for many shoppers to use their smartphones for smaller, routine payments now.
If you have set limits on tap, put up friendly reminders at the cash registers to help people know what to do. For example, if you only allow it under a certain total amount to limit your liability, remind shoppers to insert their cards in the chip reader and/or to wait until the transaction is done before taking the card out.
Put small signs near the card terminals so people know where to tap their cards if they want to pay that way. Different terminals have the tap readers in different parts of the device.
If you want people to pay a certain way, put the logo of the method at checkout so people know it’s available. This is particularly true if you charge convenience fees or offer cash discounting.
Expert Tip– A reminder that there is no chargeback liability with contactless payments. Merchants are responsible for any chargebacks when shoppers tap their cards or smartphones to pay. If chargebacks are a problem in your store, you should consider keeping your contactless limit low – e.g. only allow tap payments below $100.
Use new technology for a faster checkout
Not only are newer POS systems easier to use, they allow you to sell in more flexible ways. With TAKU, you can easily offer the following all a single system:
Buy online, pickup in-store which helps you pre-sell with payment. It’s easier to set up a pickup only counter for junior staff to cover with minimal training.
Sell from anywhere inside or outside the store with mobile POS. Turn any device into a sales register to check out customers wherever they are shopping.
With the holidays right around the corner, there is one task that needs to get done before any store holiday closures. You need to update your hours of operation for the holidays on Google My Business (GMB). The last thing you want is for a potential customer to think you are open and head to your store when it’s closed.
So today, we’ll take you through the steps on how to update your holiday hours on GMB. Luckily TAKU has built-in features for updating your store hours. So we will show you how to update your store hours from within TAKU or directly from within GMB.
Updating your holiday hours in GMB
Firstly, sign into the Google account associated with your store’s Google My Business page. This is your store showcase on Google like the example below. To learn more about Google My Business or how to sign up for a GMB account, check out our retail resources here.
Reminder, you will need to be logged into a Google account that has permission to access your Google My Business store profile.
Once you are logged into your Google account, sign into your Google My Business account from the main Google search page. Simply click the menu button next your Google profile picture.
Click that to find your business profile.
Click on Business Profile to bring up the Your business on Googlemenu with the options below.
Click Edit profile. In the new window, click on the Hours tab and scroll down to the section Holiday hours. Click the pencil icon to edit your store holiday hours.
And just like that you can edit any holiday hours for your business. This way, customers searching for you online or on Google Maps will always see your latest hours of operation.
Updating your GMB store hours from TAKU
As long as your TAKU account is integrated to your Google My Business account once, you can update your store hours directly from your POS. This works for both single stores or stores set up with multiple locations in GMB.
Click Settings from the main menu in TAKU.
Click Stores > Manage Stores
Click the View link for the store you would like to edit.
From the Store Details page, click on the Hours tab and add a New Period to add your latest store hours. Don’t forget to click the yellow button to save your new store hours.
Bonus: Adding FAQs to your GMB profile
Do you often get the same questions from customers? For example, do people always ask whether your store is an official reseller of a brand, or if your store has parking nearby?
These types of questions are perfect for the new FAQ (frequently asked questions) section now available in Google My Business. Posting FAQs in your GMB profile will help you avoid answering the same questions over and over again.
Setting up an FAQ on your profile is super easy and can be done in a few quick steps.
From the same Your business on Google menu, click Messages.
Then click the menu button (the 3 dots) on top right corner of the window.
Click Chatting Settings
4. Click to expand Add FAQs.
Click the Add a Question button.
Add a Question and answer (the Automated Response) and click Save. Repeat this for as many FAQs you would like to add to your GMB profile.
Now your shoppers can get the answers to common questions regarding your store without having to contact you by phone or email. This way both you and your customers can save time.
If you carry a lot of similar products with different options, inventory can be hard to manage. We’re excited to announce that TAKU now has the ability for you to create products with variants to group similar goods that are sold with different options such as color or size.
Product with variants, sometimes known as matrix products, allow retail stores to manage every unique combination of options as its own “variant product.”
Every variant product has its own “child SKU,” with its own inventory and price, while sharing attributes with an associated “parent SKU.” Variant products help stores track inventory more accurately. But they are most important for e-commerce or self-check kiosks as they allow shoppers to select different options from the same product page.
While it’s common for cloud-based retail systems to have many limitations on how product variants can be created, we’ve built TAKU to be super flexible and easy to use. Compared to other platforms, TAKU lets you:
Create new matrix products with up to 4 options (e.g. size, color, etc.) with unlimited unique “variants” or combinations
Add or combine existing single products into new parent SKUs while keeping past sales history
Unlink “child” products from an existing “parent” SKU and continue to sell them as single products, again while keeping past sales history
Easily make “parent” or “child” products inactive when options are discontinued
What makes it even easier? While product details of parent SKUs are automatically applied to child products when adding new options. Certain details, such as stock quantities, price and images of child products, can be adjusted for each SKU as well.
Learn more about how you can start using our flexible product matrix feature by checking out our TAKU help articles here.
October to December marks the peak shopping season for retail stores. It’s a time when many retailers plan for an increase in shoppers. As the world moves out of the global pandemic, retailers need to be ready for customers with new shopping behaviors.
According to a Google study, 70% won’t consider purchasing something without seeing it online: whether it is an ad, browsing through a website, social media, or email newsletter. This means that retailers need to start ramping up on their online efforts early: whether it is sending weekly newsletters or updating social media on a regular basis, “online storefronts” are more important than ever to shoppers.
People often flip between discovery (window-shopping) and shopping (looking for products mainly based on functions or features) until they are ready to make a purchasing decision. Of the two, discovery is more emotional and can often override the rational thinking behind shopping. Which is why online “pre-shopping” discovery is so important to the entire shopping process now.
A Statista survey showed that up to 50% of people are planning to do their holiday shopping in-stores. This means that retailers need to be ready to showcase new merchandise and discounts online to shoppers even before they make it to the stores.
In 2020, up to 79% of people left their holiday shopping until one-week before Christmas. This is good news for retailers because they are able to push their efforts to the very last minute. The same study showed that 64% of shoppers planned to shop in-stores. After more than a year of restrictions, people are eager to get out. This is great for physical stores that are able to target shoppers when they’re nearby.
Convenience plays a huge role in purchasing decisions today. “Now near me” searches have grown 100% worldwide. Options for store-managed e-commerce have also increased a lot. Because some shoppers will always leave holiday shopping until the last minute, local stores have a major advantage. After all, everybody has experienced shipping delays given the increase in online shopping. Instead, more local shoppers are searching for ways to buy online and pickup in store (BOPIS) to avoid delays.
The key to successfully offering store pickup for online orders is inventory accuracy. This means using store operations software that offers real-time stock information in-store and online. One way to make sure that your store appears online is to use Google’s free product listings and Local Inventory Ads (LIA). Learn more about how to increase foot traffic to stores with Google here.
For last minute shoppers, retailers can offer store pickup. Not only does this avoid delivery delays, it helps encourage shoppers to purchase extra items when they come to the store for their orders. Make sure that your order pickup area is well-merchandised with suitable impulse products. And consider switching to an order pickup system that will allow staff to checkout customers. There’s nothing worse than losing sales from a in-store shopper just because a customer doesn’t want to line up again to pay.
Modern POS systems are packed with great features that help retailers sell products more easily. While cloud-based features have gotten closer to older point-of-sale systems, many basic cloud POS today still can’t handle selling in fractional quantities.
This is a feature that many cloud POS systems don’t build into their core features, leaving it to others to build add-on plugins. While it’s great to have extra options through plugins, these extra costs can really add-up. At the same time, when something doesn’t work, it’s hard to know which software caused the issue.
For this reason, more retailers are looking to use all-in-one cloud POS systems with built-in core functions such as selling in fractional quantities,
What are fractional quantities?
Fractional quantities (or decimal quantities) are used by retailers that sell products that are sold in different amounts to each customer. For example, if you sell cheese by weight or DIY fabric by length. Products like this are sold in bulk, not pre-packaged. The final weight or length needed is only known when a shopper is buying in-store or online. As such, the price of these products are set to a unit of measure (e.g. $ per lb or foot) and the final selling price is only calculated during checkout.
What kind of products are best for fractional quantities?
Here are some examples of products that require fractional quantities:
Bread and bakery products
Meat, seafood, or produce
Ingredients such as spices, flour, sugar, oils, etc.
Raw materials for construction, assembly or production
Supplements, beauty supplies or candy
Landscaping or garden materials
Fabric or stationary sold by size
Any item sold in bulk
Services that are charged by the hour
and many more
How do I sell fractional quantities?
If you need to sell in fractional quantities, you will need to make sure that your POS system supports inventory quantities and sell prices to the decimal place required.
Besides being able to handle fractional quantities (e.g. 0.75 lbs) and prices (e.g. $2.765), if you sell high value bulk products, you need to be able to sell in smaller units for accuracy. For example, if you sell expensive products such as gold or saffron. With these, it is common to sell to the 4th decimal (e.g. 2.7683 grams of gold) as very small quantities can cost a lot.
While selling in bulk is a common retail feature, many basic cloud systems don’t handle it to the required decimal and will automatically apply rounding. This is where modern cloud systems such as TAKU come in. They are designed to allow retailers to accurately set prices and track stock quantities so that they can make more money.