Often small retailers can't sell on price, because their products aren't cheaper than big retailers'. But you have the chance to sell on value. You've got the opportunity to tell customers where your products come from, who your suppliers are, your service and experience and knowledge. You can sell on far more values than price, and then price become almost irrelevant because customers buy on their trust in you and what you do. That's a much deeper connection - it's sharing your passion and knowledge of your products.
You might be a bricks and mortar retailer, but don't underestimate power of the internet in getting found. If people can't find you online, they won't even know where to visit. You want to focus on being findable to people in your area - so if you're a shoe shop, make sure that if someone searches for shoe shop in your town name, you come up and have right sort of presence. [Smarta's SEO advice for small business can help with appearing on search engine results.]
In the first instance, things like Google Maps help. You can set up a Google Places listing for free, so you can be found on a Google Map on any device. That means if someone's standing near your shop and searching on their phone for what they need, you will appear automatically in results as a pin marker in the map. It's much more powerful on mobile than anything else as they're so close. Consider Facebook places too, and free local directories - it's just about building that local online presence.
I've been running various campaigns for indy retailers, including 'Independent Retailer Month' and . 'Celebrate an Independent Christmas', and this Easter we're holding 'Enjoy an Independent Easter'. This will see around independent retailers in an expected 100 towns coming together to create Easter Egg Hunts for shoppers, where they visit participating local shops and get stickers - when all eggs have been collected they get a real chocolate egg. It's about getting people to engage with their local shops to create a positive community and economic effect. It'll run from Saturday 23 March to Sunday 14 April.
You can get involved by contacting us on 01727 238890 or visiting indieeaster.co.uk. For just £1, we'll give you artwork to publicise it, coaching, how-to guides and connect you with other retailers in your area. It'll drive up footfall and, crucially, improve awareness of local shops like yours.
Create some events at the shop to become a destination shop. If you're a fashion retailer, you could run a fashion show. Or you might invite a local cockatil bar to do cocktails for your customers one night. Make it exciting and creative! Invite customers and their friends. If you want shoppers to come to you, you have to give things to them too.
Keep in touch with customers. You can do that through email newsletters - ask for their email address when you meet them, the send early special offers and promotions. Or get on Facebook. If you clothes, upload a new picture of a celebrity and show off the dress you stock that's just like it. Tie together different communications channels and make sure you're person. You have a big advantage over big chains because they can't do that, and they're not close enough to their products to pull off those special, personal ideas.