Local retail businesses face a real difficulty when it comes to competing against larger, online competitors. These giants have three big advantages over you:

  1. They have the ability to negotiate huge wholesale discounts due to the volume of trade.
  2. They have relatively low overheads because they operate online rather than through retail premises.
  3. Their volume of trade means that they can arrange fast, low-cost delivery.

So how can you compete with them on price? You can’t - so don’t attempt it.

You need to compete on service instead!

In order to do this successfully, you need to think like your customers. What would make them go into a shop and pay more for a product than they would if they ordered it online?

There are three possible reasons for this:

  1. They are unsure about whether the product is right for them and want to consider options and talk to somebody.
  2. They want to see and touch the product before they buy it. (This is particularly the case for expensive items).
  3. They want to check the quality for themselves. (This applies to things like fresh food rather than boxed or canned groceries).

Your business can take advantage of these three requirements by doing the following things:

  1. Focus on a specific set of products that people will want to see in your shop – do NOT try and sell everything.
  2. Concentrate on products that need a “personal touch”. You should be able to  explain to your customer what the product is really like and explain what technical jargon (such as “30 watts per channel”) really means to them,
  3. Learn about your products in great detail so that you can advise your customers about the options they have and what will be best for them.  Are there several makes and models that would suit their needs?
  4. Form a rapport and spend as much time as you can advising your customer. The more you do this, the more likely they are to buy from you, rather than go off and order it from somebody else online.
  5. Make your premises a nice place to be for your customers. Provide seating and free refreshments, if possible, so that people can relax and stay with you to learn more about the products.  The greater your knowledge and the more you focus on them, the more they will trust you.
  6. Make sure your website emphasises your knowledge, not just the products.