If you own a retail store, you are likely vying against the ferocious competition of big-box stores and the ever-growing giant that is e-commerce. These opponents are tough to beat. However, small, independently-owned retail stores are still existing and thriving in the marketplace. These businesses continue to thrive because they know how to operate in the modern world. If you want to truly give yourself a competitive edge in the retail space, read on for 5 actionable tips.
Retail stores that do well provide an exciting, branded experience for their customers. There is a reason (beyond sales and service) that Apple stores continue to thrive -- because they provide an on-brand experience that consistently wows and provides value to their customers. Consider what industry you business is in and the type of customers you regularly attract. What do they enjoy? What kind of experiences would truly benefit their lives? Something as simple as offering beverages and snacks can make a store visit memorable.
Integrate the Digital and Physical
Your customers almost certainly shop online, which is why you need to strongly communicate that your storefront and the online marketplace come together at your brick and mortar location. Providing digital features at your store, such as in-store apps that give your customers exclusive deals as well as allow for remote ordering with in-store pickup. Depending on the industry you are in, offering services like guest printing can make your store highly desirable. Starbucks has done well for itself by introducing mobile pay and order features into its app, which is very pleasant to use. One key consideration here is to make sure that the user interface and design of your digital platforms integrate with your storefront -- there should be coherency across all channels of your brand.
Invest in Your Staff
Your staff are the people that truly make the experience of your store. At the end of the day, what people are drawn to are meaningful engagements with other people. You need a staff that believes in your brand, that has a strong grasp on what it is your business provides to your customers, and is able to champion those causes and effectively communicate them to your clientele. In general, you want to hire staff who are able to socialize well, are outgoing, and are able to learn and communicate the ins and outs of your products to your customers.
Focus on Community
For a local shop to be effective, content writing and SEO might not work as well as you want them to. You need your store to be a community establishment. To do that, you will need to do some guerilla-style word-of-mouth marketing. In addition, it's usually a good idea to collaborate with other well-known businesses in the area. This will afford your brand trust with the loyal customers of the store you are working with.
Use Localized SEO
While community engagement is always a great marketing strategy for a local shop, the realities of mobile devices and reliance on web searches to find storefronts should drive you to make sure that your business is easy to find on the internet. Make sure that your website contains helpful key words and phrases that will be picked up by search engines -- it might be worth hiring a third party to do this. Above all, make sure that your website clearly describes where your store is located and how to get to it. Make sure that your online information answers as many questions as possible, so when customers come in they are well-informed and ready to buy.