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.
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.
Every so often, retailers are affected by things out of their control such as recession, inflation, seasonal natural disasters and pandemics (just to name a few). One of our customers had a huge setback when a large truck crashed into their storefront because of black ice. Bottom line is, you always have to be ready for surprises. Without the right precautions in place, this could put a huge strain on your businesses and could lead to closure. In an uncertain world, we want to make sure you have the right tools to manage your store so we have put together a few tips below to help you stay resilient through any unforeseeable events.
Conduct a physical inventory count to verify inventory amounts. Record any losses of inventory that are damaged, or expired, or spoiled. You’ll want to make sure that the inventory you have counted matches stock levels in your POS or inventory management system.
Review your inventory to decide what needs to be discounted and promoted immediately to bring in cash flow and to minimize the losses from your most outdated stock.
Contact your suppliers and vendors to get an update on order lead times and ensure accurate delivery schedules. You don’t want to sell what you can’t fulfill.
Use new hiring tactics. Write engaging job descriptions, promise of more hours, and offer a rewards-based incentive program so that your staff can stay invested with the success of your store.
Review loss prevention and security policies with employees. Don’t forget to review your POS access rights to make sure the staff permissions are still accurate.
Staffing alternatives with technology. Labor is hard to come by these days, modern omnichannel systems like TAKURetail (with features like our self-checkout kiosk, and automatic inventory sync) can reduce the amount of hours needed to run your business.
Retail Store Exterior and Interior
Regularly make sure that the storefront is clean by washing windows and doors, and cleaning high-traffic areas thoroughly.
Have the store’s new merchandising plan and products tags ready for staff. Ensure that all of your staff are informed of any new changes and are scheduled to help display stock before you open.
Place promotional signage around the store.
Retail Operations Management
Organize back office tasks: Review your fulfillment processes as cashiers need to have easy access to product or curbside orders at the front of the store to minimize their walking around the store.
Review receipt management procedures and train staff to put receipts directly into shopping bags instead of handing them to customers or ask customers if they want an email receipt instead. Remember that privacy regulations require that you get positive customer consent to save their emails for future use so an email marketing tool to capture consent that will allow customers to unsubscribe themselves.
Enable staggered pickup times. Requiring customers to make an appointment to pick up their purchases to avoid huge lineups outside of your store. E-commerce providers such as TAKU eCommerce allow customers to choose a pickup time and date at checkout. Alternatively, you can use apps such as Eventbrite, Calendly or Acuity Scheduling, many of which are free for a single store account.
Security, Technology, and Utilities
Ensure that your utilities are working properly:This includesheating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC), phone, internet, electricity, and plumbing etc. If any of your utilities were disconnected while you were closed, it’s a good idea to call the utility companies to make sure they are working before you re-open.
Check all surveillance and security cameras to make sure they are working properly.
Ensure alarm systems are working and consider updating alarm codes if needed.
Verify that your retail POS system, credit card terminals, and scannersare ready to process sales. Before opening, ring in a test sale to make sure your POS is good to go.
Make sure that your payment terminal (PIN pad) is capable of accepting contactless payments. Know what your contactless limits are and increase them if you are comfortable with the higher risk (contactless “tap” payments are subject to chargebacks).
If things are a bit dated, consider updating your security system. You can look at online reviews comparing different systems to get a better idea.
Let people know that you take orders online – TAKU helps retailers showcase their products 24/7 online and accepts payments easily and quickly (read more here). Fulfill orders in-store and allow customers to schedule a pickup time so that customers can pop in to pick up their items without the stress of long wait times or lineups.
Update Google My Business. Update your Google My Business listing and let customers know you are open for curbside pickup or delivery. Remember to adjust your hours of operation on your listing if you decide to shorten your store hours!
Get added to local directories. Add your business to local directory listings (Bing, Yahoo etc.) to make it easier for shoppers to find you online. Support Retail is one of our favorite directories and was created during the COVID-19 pandemic as a free tool to help connect local businesses to shoppers in the area. Being featured on local directories with links to your website improves SEO which also means that you are able to have your website appear ahead of your competitors on search engines such as Google.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to add a few relevant tips for retailers that have reopened or planning to reopen soon. We understand that it might be a little overwhelming, but completing this list can help your employees and staff feel safer, and create more trust.
The world can be a shaky place right now, and there may be some rough times ahead. You can rest assured by following the tips outlined in this post. When you build resilience in your retail business, you can handle uncertain times with the utmost confidence and certainty.
Want to learn more about how to be seen as the top result on Google (or other search engines)?
Social media is all around us these days. Everyone from kids to grandparents are on at least one social media platform. So it is important to learn how to use this modern tool to boost your brand both online and in person. In fact, there are strategies for retailers focused around social media. Yes, there is such a thing as a social retail strategy. Today we will take you through what such a strategy is, and why it is important for you to have one in place.
So, what is social retail?
Social retail is an essential part of a modern omnichannel retail strategy. Social retail is using social media to communicate and engage with customers while also selling to them in-store and online. In a nutshell, the strategy succeeds by rewarding customers for sharing products they love. After all, many customers love to share their new purchases and favorite brands on social media. This is especially so when that product or brand aligns with their personality. The idea of social retail is to incentivize your customers to continue doing this – hopefully making it a habit.
For those who are familiar with word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing, social retail is just a modern, digital version. You want customers to be so happy sharing your products that their friends and followers begin to try them out as well.
It’s important to remember that it isn’t only about sharing your brand and products on traditional websites or social media channels. Some of the top performing brands in social retail feature their products on virtual platforms as well, in other words, metaverse retailing. A great example of this are some brands releasing their collections on Bitmoji. Even though they are not yet making money off of Bitmoji users wearing their brands, they are generating a lot of brand awareness.
You should keep in mind that a social retail strategy is not ideal for every type of retailer. Are you selling the type of items people would like to share? Are your customers the type of people to even want to share their purchases? These are some of the questions you should consider before investing in a social retail strategy.
Why you should do it
Whether or not your business has a large social media presence, it’s still common for customers to post about their experience online. If you provide a good experience, customers will advocate for your business and products online. It was found that 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. So maximize this free promotion by having a social retail strategy that includes referrals.
Since social media is a place for people to connect and communicate online, it’s the best place to start or continue building a loyal community for your store. Once a community is established, your community members will be some of the most frequent buyers. They will even act as ambassadors for your store by promoting it to their friends and families. The beauty of the community is that users will inevitably end up building connections and bonds through shared experiences and values. This will boost the positive feelings associated with your brand – reinforcing your brand’s loyal community. Through a brand community paired with the right customer management tools, you’ll get to know your audience more and have better data and understanding on their expectations, wants, and needs.
How to do a social retail strategy
The first step is to decide which social media platforms you will use. It’s always better to use more than one, but take some time to consider which ones your customers are more likely to be active on. When setting up business profiles on each of them, make sure you are tagging your page with common keywords associated with your business. For example if you have a grocery store, you will want to use tags or hashtags such as: grocers, produce, food, etc. On top of that, you want to make sure your profile pictures are consistent across the board. These two steps will really help customers to find your profiles on social platforms.
The next step is to start creating content and posting! Make sure that your posts aren’t just random. Schedule them out and organize what type of posts you want and how often you want them uploaded. Create a good mix of promotional content, fun content for engagement, and content that speaks about the values of your brand.
Try to encourage customers to post or tag about your products! You can do this by showcasing their posts on the company account, having photo opportunities in-store for them to post about, hosting small giveaways or events for them to take part in, etc.
Just a reminder, not all of these examples work for all business types! Pick methods you think would work best for your own business. As long as the end goal is to encourage customers to share. Finally start adjusting your accounts and what you post based on feedback & data from your customers.
A social retail strategy is almost a given in 2022. If you haven’t started one yet, now you know why and how you should start. With 59% of the world on social media – you should be investing time and energy into boosting your brand on social and digital channels.
TAKU Retail has all of the tools needed to start selling on social media, and collect data on your customers. These essential tools will help you engage in the ultimate social retail strategy. Start today!
Accessibility is an important feature to have in any business. Around 15% of people around the world live with a disability of some sort. In the US alone, this statistic is 26% of the population – about 61 million adults with a disability. Given the numbers involved, it’s important for retailers to consider whether their operations and products appeal to disabled people’s needs.
Besides automatic doors and wheelchair ramps, there is still a lot that retailers can do when it comes to accommodating disabled people.
Why is accessibility important
As we’ve mentioned, a good portion of the world lives with some form of disability. And as a retailer you want to make it as easy as possible for all potential customers to shop with you. A survey conducted in the UK reported that 78% of disabled people found it difficult or impossible to access most shops and malls. Making stores more accessible to 78% of disabled people is an easy way to increase your customer base and improve sales.
Access for people with disabilities improves access for everyone.
At its core, accessibility in retail is ensuring as many people as possible can easily shop with you. When most people think of making a store more accessible, they often think about making it easier for people who use wheelchairs or canes to access the store. But accessibility can include more than that. It is also about making sure anyone can read the signs in your store, or that anyone can feel comfortable in your store.
The types of accessibility issues
There are a few types of potential accessibility issues your shoppers could have. The common barriers to accessibility are:
Visual: This is for people who have a hard time seeing things, or even those who cannot see at all.
Mobility: This is for people who have difficulty moving around, such as people in wheelchairs or people with crutches.
Auditory: This is for people who have a hard time hearing or cannot hear at all.
Learning and/or cognitive: This is for people who may have learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
It is important to consider whether your store is inaccessible to people who fall under one or more of these categories. Are you doing enough to provide a satisfying shopping experience to these people?
The issues that arise from inaccessible retail
Besides just the financial losses a store can get from inaccessibility there is more to consider. At the end of the day, people with disabilities are still people. We must be empathetic to their concerns and needs.
When stores are inaccessible, people with disabilities are further made to feel like they are not a valued member of society. Just imagine if every time you had to go shopping you had to deal with an obstacle course at the same time. It would make you think that the business does not want you there or is making it as hard as possible for you to be there. Unfortunately, this is the reality many disabled people have to live with.
Some other consequences that can arise from your store being inaccessible are:
Stress & anxiety
Problems getting to certain products or services
This surely makes you ask, how can I make my business more accessible?
How can you make your business accessible
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what accessibility is. Now we can move on to the most important part – how to actually make your business accessible to more people!
Evaluate your store
The first step is to take some time to assess your store. Are there places where people may have trouble with accessibility? Perhaps a certain aisle is too tight for people to move through easily if they are using a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair. Or maybe some of your signs are hard to read due to small lettering. Even things such as lighting can affect accessibility. Make a list of all of the potential issues within your store so you have an action plan to start.
Understand your region’s accessibility regulations
Each country, state or province has its own rules and regulations when it comes to accessibility. Make sure you do some research into what your region specifies. This will also help you prioritize tasks within your action plan.
Examples of accessibility features
Here are some common solutions to accessibility issues. Keep in mind, these are just a few examples.
Ramps and automatic doors
Large lettering on signage (72pt font is a standard size for more accessible readability)
Wide doors to allow people in wheelchairs or walkers to pass through
Braille on some signs
Comfortable lighting (not too bright but not too dark either)
Using patterns instead of only colors for differentiation for those with poor color vision
Flexibility at the point-of-sale (portable card processing machines or with long cables, ample room at self-checkout stations, etc.)
If you have TVs or screens, make sure closed-captioning is turned on
Include people with disabilities in your marketing
Be open to suggestions from people with disabilities
Now that you know your region’s regulations, and you know what in your store needs work, you can begin taking action.
Once you have core accessibility issues resolved, you can take extra steps to make your customers with accessibility feel more included. Examples of this include:
Offering products which will appeal to people with various physical needs
Quiet spaces to give consumers a break from all of the hustle and bustle in your store. This is very effective for customers who experience sensory overload.
Have magnifying glasses that allow visually impaired people to read smaller texts and labels
Review websites and online stores for sufficient meta information for user navigation (versus just product information) as those who are visually impaired often use audio tools to read aloud online content
QR codes on product labels which will allow customers to inspect product information from their smartphones which have built-in accessibility modes
Hiring employees who know sign language
These extra steps will really help customers with disabilities feel included and accommodated.
Train your staff
While having accessibility features is a great thing, it is important that your staff, the people who represent your business, are also trained to serve customers with disabilities. Making sure that all of your staff are trained in the basics of accessibility etiquette will result in every customer getting the best customer service. You can find some services and products that help with disability awareness/etiquette training here.
Online accessibility matters too
As mentioned above, accessibility doesn’t just stop at your physical store, but extends to your online sales channels as well. A survey in the UK showed that businesses lose a combined £17 billion due to a lack of online accessibility. This highlights the economic importance of making your digital sales channels accessible, beyond it being the right thing to do.
Make sure it is easy to navigate your website and that you include alt-texts on all images and navigation functions (e.g. buttons). Since people with visual impairments use applications to read aloud website content, alt-texts on images help describe and differentiate them to users.
Ensure readability on your website. Use legible fonts, clear color contrast and appropriate font sizes. This extends to captions on any video that may be on your website. Also make sure that you are using headings to organize text content on your site. Having a structure to your text content allows it to be more understandable to users with cognitive disabilities. For more info on web accessibility check out this Hubspot article.
Accessible businesses thrive
The best type of businesses are able to serve as many customers as possible. And offering access to those with disabilities, improves access for everyone. This makes your business more successful and a stronger member of your community. Please take some time as soon as you can to evaluate where you can improve accessibility in your business.
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