3 Online Weapons Every Independent Retailer Should Use

It’s never been tougher for independent retailers.

Caught between a twin assault from large chain retailers and the worst recession for 100 years, trying to run a successful business today is an enormous challenge.

Yet, it seems we’re up for it because there is a constant stream of new businesses being set up.

There are 3 key ways that micro business retailers can gain advantage over the big chains:

  • flexibility,
  • speed, and
  • the personal touch.

But how do we take advantage of that online? Here are 3 ways that too many independent retailers don’t take enough advantage of.

1.  Website

Your website is the first place you should look to take on the big chains.

  • How professional does it look?
  • Is your navigation simple?
  • Can people find your products or services?
  • Could they find their way back easily?

Is your text friendly? Are you using active language, or falling into the trap of using pseudo-marketing language? You know what I mean: “we offer the very latest in feline nutritional technology”. If you sell cat bowls, just say so. If it’s just you, just say so. There’s nothing wrong with telling it like it is.

Don’t be afraid to express a little personality. That’s why people choose to shop with you instead of Tesco.

2.  Social Media

One of the most effective weapons in the small business arsenal is social networking. We know that most micro and small businesses get most of their trade from referral and recommendation. We also know that social media such as Twitter and Facebook are, if used effectively, a great way to engage with customers even when they’re not in your shop.

“It’s a very important tool in my business. I use Facebook the most as I can do so much with it. Twitter is also a very good tool and Pinterest is proving to be another great direct link to customers worldwide.

Social media is invaluable to me being an indie retailer as I can reach so many people worldwide who I couldn’t have interacted with before.”

says Lizzy Evans of Funky Poppy, a new clicks-and-mortar retailer.

Start by taking your customers’ Twitter names or Facebook addresses. Then start talking to them online. Find out what they like, what they don’t like. Offer twitter-only specials. Find out about hashtags and which ones are relevant to your customers. Listen to them, the answers are all there.

3.  Blogging

So you’ve improved your website and it’s now a paragon of clarity and focus.

Also, you’re rocking on the (relevant) social media platforms.

It’s all looking good. It’s time to complete the picture with a blog.

Why blog? There are lots of reasons, but the best one is the simplest. Your website, advertising and marketing can only contain so much information, and social media is not an end in itself. A blog gives you infinite opportunities to talk about what you do.

As an independent retailer you have one big advantage that the chains don’t have: passion. It’s your passion and enthusiasm for what you do that will turn your blog into a magnet for customers.

The Next Step

As an independent retailer you need to recognise that although your small size may feel like a disadvantage, it’s actually your greatest asset!

Small is just small, but small and dedicated is remarkable.

Small and passionate is attractive.

Small and a burning desire to be the absolute best is unbeatable.

Use my 3 tips and you could become become known as the biggest micro business retailer in town, and because we’re talking about online solutions here, you don’t have to be restricted to the town boundaries either. You could also consider combining your physical shop with an online store.

micro business actionToday’s Micro Action

Make a short list of the reasons why your retail business is better because it’s micro. Then follow these 3 steps to maximise the advantage of your niche.

Ash Mashhadi

Ash Mashhadi is a Web Design and Social Media Specialist and founder of Design Inspiration. He is a respected writer for publications and websites and has appeared on national TV and radio.

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Comments

  1. I agree Ash, Social Media and Blogging are two ways an independent retailer can show their personality, knowledge and customer focus. Embrace your advantages. Great post. Thanks.

  2. Great article! Needs to be shared with as many small businesses as possible.
    Thank you :)

    • Lizzy, what a lovely thing to say! I’m pretty passionate about helping small businesses, I have to admit. A few years ago I set up a small website to do just that in my home city of Plymouth (it’s called http://inplymouth.com if you want to check it out) which grew and grew until it’s now the top independent site for the entire city. It even outperforms the city’s official website.

      The reason for telling you this story is to remind us all that micro business and small businesses can beat the big boys if we’re focused, dedicated and determined.
      Ash Mashhadi recently posted..How to Generate New Business by Inspiring Your WebsiteMy Profile

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