How Small Businesses Can Fight Back Against Big Box Stores
Whether you own an established small business or are just starting out, there are few things more intimidating than the presence of a nearby big box store. But although it can be daunting, competing with a chain store can push your business to new levels of efficiency and innovation and leave it stronger than ever before. These are five of the best ways to keep your business afloat against giant corporations.
Emphasize Customer Service
What box stores gain in variety and economies of scale they lose in customer service and personal attention. There are simply too many people with too many different problems for a chain store to handle them all effectively. Your greatest strength as a small business is your ability to ensure that every buyer walks away satisfied. A reputation for accommodation is often all it takes to win over new customers, so be prepared to go the extra mile for their business.
Box stores’ second greatest weakness is their generalist approach to merchandise. They might stock items from nearly every industry, but they do not have the capacity to include specialty items or to hire knowledgeable employees. With this in mind, figure out your niche and stick to it. Stock high-quality brands that cannot be found in box stores, ranging in price from beginner- to expert-level. Your goal is to appeal to customers whose needs cannot be met by cheap, low-quality chain store goods and who are willing to spend a little more for premium wares.
Utilize Low-Cost Credit Card Processing
Streamlining the basic costs of running a business allows you to trim prices elsewhere, and every cent counts. Choosing a credit card processor like Payment Depot can dramatically reduce the amount lost in credit card transaction fees by charging a flat subscription/per-transaction fee rather than skimming high percentage-based profits off of every transaction. These savings can go toward paying other bills, adding new inventory or reducing prices, all of which will help you stay competitive against chain retailers.
Keep Employees Happy
A business is only as strong as its employees, and the employees of big box stores tend to be overworked, underpaid and miserable. That translates to the customer service problems mentioned earlier, as well as poor employee retention and productivity. Businesses that treat their employees well also gain a solid word-of-mouth presence in the community, making locals more likely to patronize companies that they feel are directly benefiting their friends and neighbors.
Stay Active in the Community
Finally, it is important to constantly remind potential customers of your existence. Take part in local activities by sponsoring youth sports teams, marching in parades and stocking booths at larger events. Establish a presence online and in social media, and advertise through other small businesses and newspapers. Customer loyalty is essential in a big-box economy, and the best way to build it is by becoming a part of their lives even when they aren’t opening their wallets. With the right attitude and strategies, your business can not only survive the challenges posed by chain stores, but even prosper alongside them.