I am shocked at how many small retailers fail to see the opportunity presented by the marketplace today.
Small retailers, quite simply, cannot compete with the likes of Tesco or Amazon on price and expect to survive, no matter how you slice it, they need to compete on experience.
One of my favorite examples of how a specialty retail store competes on experience is The Pizza Cafe in Newton Abbot. A small Pizza Restaurant, it is run by a vibrant and softly spoken entrepreneur, Mark Thuell. When I take my children for a visit, we don’t expect to get 2 for one Pizzas or free drinks. We expect to have an experience.
And we never get let down.
Here are five things small retailers can learn in order to compete on something other than price.
1. Provide Incentive
When you walk into the Pizza Cafe, there is typically someone there with a bright smile to greet you and make you feel at home. The store is small, but there is always a fantastic atmosphere, combined with fun and tasty food, and bright cheerful staff. They also hold events and competitions to keep up the interest!
2. Offer Value through Experience
The Pizza Cafe doesn’t hide the fact that prices are probably higher that the special offers (almost always available) from the chains. Instead, they create value by providing an experience when you visit. As well, regular patrons are rewarded with frequent specials through e-newsletters and social media. Unlike most small retailers, they put experience ahead of price.
3. Differentiate Products
Because large retailers rarely take chances on new products or new developers, specialty stores have the first opportunity to offer exclusive new items. What can you offer that’s interesting a different? Have a look at the Pizza Cafe’s website to see how they do it.
4. Get Online for the Right Reasons
It should be no secret or threat (in fact it’s a massive opportunity) that online shopping will continue to become a preferred method of shopping, so offering your clients this convenience will be a key to success.But remember what they are looking for more and more: specialisation, advice, guarantees and fun above price. And now almost anyone can get online cheaply and effectively.
5. Go Social in the right way
A playful SHORT newsletter, constant updates to your website, and social media channels, combined with a loyalty club, assures that customers and fans are engaged constantly. No matter how small your retail company, you need to be engaging your customers through social media.
(But remember that 99% of social media is a waste of time and done badly: we publish a 7 step guide to help you get this right, please contact us and we’ll send it to you for free).
For any small business, competing with large competitors with vastly greater resources is always daunting. For specialty retail stores, the challenge is ten fold. To succeed, retail business owners need to work hard… but, more importantly, work SMART!
Then success will definitely be yours.
Good luck and KBO