The question I continually ask myself is??_.. What do I have to offer my customers that an online store does not? I am so aware of the online competition that I have; we all have. I was surprised when I researched my direct competition (the NYC Business Library is a great resource) and discovered my niche??s competitors were not online but are the larger department stores. Not to say this will change, but it is good to know. This past week China celebrated ???Single??s Day??. Started a few years back to counter ???Valentine??s Day??. ???Another year, another Singles Day event, another staggering amount of payments made and processed. The e-commerce giant, Alibaba, has said its sales for this year??s Singles Day, an event held every year on 11/11, hit $18 billion, an increase of 32% on last year??s total of $14.3 billion. It was another resounding success for mobile shopping as Alibaba reported that over eight out of ten transactions were made on mobile devices, a total that surpasses last year??s amount as a whole.?? This can be so depressing and overwhelming to a small retail business???Because I am such a small store and do not have the money to invest in joining large servers like the big boys and girls, it can be very daunting to even think I can compete. But I still try. I even started asking myself why I am here? What is my store offering my customers? Are we all becoming dinosaurs? A scary thought but the online numbers are daunting and side by side, we cannot compete. So, this takes me back to my original question. What can I offer to my customers that one line companies can??t? Relationships. People crave contact. The customers coming into your store or service business and are not shopping online have a reason. They want one on one service. What can we give them? We can give them our time, our eye contact, our attention, our human connection which promotes trust. What if they want to compare price? Well, start with yourself. I went down to the jewelry wholesale district the other day. The owner started to negotiate. I gave him the FAIR original price he offered. Although I could have use the $5 savings to buy a Starbucks, I gave it to him and made my own coffee when I got back my store. WE ALL are trying to make a living. If you have customers that constantly want deals, control them. Is it the exact same product you are competing with? How is yours better? Quality? Research your brands. What are they selling for online? If you can??t compete bring in other brands that are more difficult to find online. I try to have a range of price points. Even if someone comes in will little money, they can buy something. I will not down my quality of products. My customers know this is not H&M. I go out of my way to service them with offering my sale rack and trying to find a piece they are happy with. Online does not do this, nor do the big box stores or large department stores. Curate your customers. I have rid my store of the ones that want deals all the time. I can??t afford them. I don??t worry about it anymore. I try to stay focused on building my client base with customers that are in the know. Lastly, I have reworked my presence online for locale visibility. If you haven??t lately, it is worth the time. I found some big discrepancies with my own store info. Most important, in my book, is start with Google Places for Business and a Local Google+ Page. Make sure all your citations listings are current (Mine were not) Search through the really long list of online search sites. I just did the top ones for now. Like yelp, City Search, Better Business Beaureau??_..etc ( Expect a few annoying phone calls but it has to be done).
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