“Help me! Online shopping companies are killing my business.” This phrase has become very common since the start of the eCommerce Business. Many small or local business owners are worried about their own businesses.
One of the best ways to continue the local business is to leverage the already spread eCommerce platforms. After the break out of FoodPanda, Zomato, UberEats, etc, many of the small restaurants also listed themselves on the platforms. This was a win-win situation for both. Many of the independent cab owners started out with Uber and Ola. Again it was beneficial for both of them. Similarly, many of the business leveraged platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, OLX, Quickr, etc, and have grown beyond the wildest dreams of the owners. So, it is not necessary that an eCommerce platform has to be a risk to your own business, there is always an option to join hands with them.
But in any case, if the business has to be continued locally, there still are ways to compete.
● Create a Website and start selling online as well
An elegant yet minimalistic website with good slides is all in hype currently. Set it up in a way that the customer can easily browse through the products and have a good in-website search engine as most of them have slower ones. Don’t fill the customer with all the products and their details at once, take it a few at a time. This will not overwhelm the customer.
Selling online requires a delivery system. Have a trusted delivery system that can do its job without damaging the product and does it within time.
Put a tracking system such that customers can know how far are their products.
Make sure that the charges for delivery are clearly visible to the customer while finalizing anything.
The packaging of the products has to be proper, else there is a chance of damage during the travel and no one wants their purchased item delivered in a damaged condition despite having an option to return it.
● Give People Extra Reasons to Buy from your Store
Start giving out factual and realistic reasons for your customers to come to visit your store. You have a local store on the road, useless you give them the reasons why would the customer bother to come? Don’t say that the prices are low as there are many outside how are willing to pay a bit extra for convenience. Give them facilities like free or lifelong service, live tryouts/trials, instant takeaway, etc.
● Know Your Customer And Serve Them Properly
People, in general, get irritated when they call for service and get stuck with the ‘Dial 1, Dial 2’ business. Have a solid in-person customer service. Be available immediately over Call or Chat. This makes the customer to subconsciously believe in you and thus this can be leveraged for sales.
Second thing is to know your loyal customer nicely. Making new customers is very different than maintaining old ones. If someone visits you often, give them a bit of special attention. Know them by their names, ask them about their well being, personally show them the new collection you got, try to figure out their tastes, etc Big companies have huge machines running in the background to suggest the customers but those machines don’t give a feeling of warmth or taken care of.
● Choose Specific Products over the General Market
After figuring out what the customer needs or wants, try to find out if they would buy it or not. Try your best to source those products through different means. It is simple. If you are finding it hard to find or source these specialized products, then the mass markets will also have the same problem, but the real question eve if they want to source them, do they have time to do so? Bring these products to your store and keep them exclusive. Such exclusive specialized products will bring you more loyal customers and keep the bargainers away.
● Shout The Word Out
Advertise as much as you can within your given time and financial budget. Received a new item? Start tweeting about it. Take photographs of it or shoot a video of you with it. Put it on your status on Whatsapp or Facebook. If you have a youtube channel, upload the video over it. These all are free of cost.
Now if the financial budget allows, make flyers and give them out in newspapers. Print out advertisements in magazines. Put advertisements on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Hire social media influencers to market your products for a commission on the purchase of a product by a customer coming through their referral.
If you haven’t done this earlier, start taking the phone numbers or email addresses of your customers and personally send them messages about the new item. But take care of not flooding them. Sending out important updates once a while and keeping them in the loop is important but don’t do that on an everyday basis.
● Creation of a Loyalty Program
A lot of companies have started this, What it means is that a few loyalty points get added to the customer’s virtual wallet such that he can redeem them to get a discount for his future purchases.
Additional discount for purchases above a certain budget can be given to customers and this may encourage them to buy more. Festivals and Holiday discounts can be given away along with this.