Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Compete with Larger Retailers

Comparable-store sales at U.S. Walmarts have dropped for the sixth straight quarter, reports Marketing Daily. Although this quarter’s drop isn’t large, it appears to have been both in terms of less customer traffic and lower average ticket sales.
     Marketing Daily believes that the decreases are because the deep recession drove more shoppers to Walmart but those shoppers were not happy with their experiences at the stores.
     All this is a reminder that there are clear opportunities for the small to midsize retail business to compete with large retailers.
  • Provide the right level of customer service. Consumers are moving toward the extremes, expecting either superb customer service to justify higher prices or adequate customer service justified by bargain prices. Superb customer service requires rich staffing and ongoing staff training. Those can be expensive investments. Assess if the return on those investments is sufficient.
  • Carry distinctive merchandise and/or provide distinctive services. If the large retailer is carrying the latest in a collectible series, you might carry not only the latest, but some from years past. If the hairdresser leasing space in the Big Box provides standard high volume/low cost services, you might feature distinctive hairdressing services that are not called for as often.
  • Brag about your local ties. Never try to make shoppers feel guilty for shopping at stores owned by corporate entities located far away. But do give reminders that a higher percentage of money spent with a local retailer will stay in the local community than is the case with corporate-owned stores.
  • Cultivate the determination of an underdog. People like to identify with a winner, but they also cheer for the underdog who is determined to prevail. This spirit of perseverance is also crucial for your internal mental state. Competing with large retailers is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Diversify. The small to midsize retail business can be more flexible than the Big Box. If you sell products, try adding services. If you sell services, consider marketing products. But a caution: Keep a clear business personality. Your actions should be deliberative or you’ll confuse your target markets.
     These are among the many tactics I’ll be covering tomorrow in a seminar sponsored by the City of Fairfield, California, and the Solano College Small Business Development Center. For information, please call (707) 864-3382 or click here.

Click below for more:
Strengthen Your Barbell Retailing
Assess the Costs of Customer Satisfaction
Boast About Underdog Determination
Project Your Store’s Personality

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