Consumers tend to be creatures of habit. They findsomething they like, something that meets their needs and they usually stick with it.
They tend to only change when something really, really compels them to do so - and that is not always price.
Retail businesses face a lot of competition; from similarsize stores, online marketplaces and big box stores. These entities, if not managed for, can easily drive your retail company out of business.
But, all businesses lack something. And that something is shelf space.
No business can carry every item or even every style, shape or flavor of every item.
What this means is that these businesses or any business for that matter cant satisfy all customers. And, if acustomer cannot be satisfied, that is an opportunity for another business - namely your business.
Have you ever gone to a store to find a certain brand or a certain quality only to find that they either dont carryit, quit carrying it or just are simply out of it (shown by the big empty space on the shelf where the item use to be)?
I know I have. If you have, then you understand thatfeeling. The feeling that you either have to go somewhereelse (big waste of time) or settle for another item; an item that you either dont want or that does not fully meet your needs.
Knowing that any one store (online or off) cannot be all things to all consumers opens up several ways in whichretail businesses can compete - even against those big box stores; here are three of the top ways:
Big stores like WalMart and Target carry a lot of products from household goods, clothes, toys and jewelry to furniture, music and food.
In order for them to carry that many differentproducts, they can only carry a few styles or types of each item.
Go to your favorite big box store and try to find a pair ofrunning shorts that are light blue in color. What you will find is that they carry different sizes of black or white shorts but not ones of different or unique colors.
These stores just dont have the shelf space to carry all colors so they only carry items that they hope willresonate with a larger majority of consumers (standard items).
But, if your retail business can offer more colors or evenmore styles - your business can attract and retain those customers who want something more than just the standard product.
And, this does not just mean keeping a large selection ofbrand name goods as many times off brand products offer just as good or better quality at reasonable prices.
Youve heard the old adage with many well knownproducts that its not the product that commands that price as half the price is just in the name.
I hate going to a store, a store that I know carries a certainproduct, only to find out that they are out of that product - that the store either did not order enough or that I was not there when the shipment came in.
I really hate it when I make that store my destinationknowing that they carry that product only to drive all that way and find out they are out of that product.
Doing so, not having the products on hand that customers want, when they want them does not instill a loyalty in that customer.
If your can keep its shelves stock - stocked with products that your customers know they can come and get at anytime - opens up an opportunity to instill a sense of loyalty in your customers as well as attract other, frustrated customers.
We are a very busy people. Thus, if we know, as consumers, that we can go to your store and always(ALWAYS) get what we want, we are more willing to pay a little more for that product and that convenience.
Most online stores or big box stores compete on price.Thus, their suppliers have to provide them their cheapest products. And, as you may know, cheap usually means lower quality.
If your retail business can provide better quality, typically at higher prices, there are niche buyers who understandthat quality can save them money over time and thus are willing to pay more now.
You go to a big box store or national online marketplace and buy a table top gas grill for $50. You make that selection based on price and price alone. This is what many of these discount stores rely on.
You get the product home and set it up. Within a month, the product is not working and you have to buyanother. What do you do? Do you pay another $50 for the same product knowing that it may not last a month?
On the other hand, another buyer spends $90 in yourstore for a better quality gas grill. This grill last the buyer one year before it has to be replaced.
Remember, there are buyers out there, even the most frugal ones, who will spend more money now - make larger purchases - if they understand the long-term costbenefits of buying better products - of buying your higher quality products.
You just have to educate them. And, that means usingyour marketing efforts to not just let them know where to find you or to promote your latest sale - but, use thateffort to educate them on the overall cost savings they will realize from buying from you.
Far too long have we seen big box stores enter local markets or online stores offer similar products just towatch local mom and pop operations fold up - taking away consumer choice and convenience.
It does not have to be this way if your retail business can learn how to compete. Learning to compete takes three things:
1) Understanding Your Competitors - finding their weaknesses and exploiting them.
2) Understanding Your Customers - Know what pains orneeds your customers really have that are not being metor not being met fully and being flexible enough in your business to provide what they actually need or want.
3) Marketing - if you know your product offers better quality and thus more long-term costs saving, then you also have to let your customers know. Remember, customers are creatures of habit and to get them to switch to your business and buy your products;you really have to compel them to and not just hope that they will figure it out on their own.
If you want your retail small business to not only survive but to grow and prosper in this very competitiveenvironment, then learn how your business can actually compete and win against those big boys.