14 Dec 7 Business Practices That Will Make Your Small Retail Business Stand Out
No matter what kind of small retail business you own, we’re all living an oversaturated market. According to the National Retail Federation, there are more than 3.7 million retail establishments in the America. All of those retailers control an estimated $2.6 trillion of America’s capital and support 42 million jobs, meaning that 1 in every 4 Americans works for some kind of retailer.
With that many places trying to sell their products, how is any retailer—much less yours—supposed to get noticed? Americans are already numb to advertising, but there are other ways to make your small business stand out head and shoulders above your competitors.
Read on for seven awesome business practices that will help you and your business stand out:
1. Tell the story of your brand
An important step to building a memorable and relatable brand is to tell your story. Too many small business owners fail to take control of their brand story and instead leave it up to customers to come up with their own story about the product. Who cares about creating a brand narrative when you should be out there selling your product, right?
Wrong. This is a huge mistake because it leaves your brand open to be defined by others and swallowed up in the sea of mediocre retailers out there. People connect to real stories, so it’s your job to tell the story of how your company started, why your product matters, and what your goals are for the future. Customers are more likely to remember you if you present your products in an interesting and thoughtful way that goes beyond telling them to buy it. Stories add value to products.
2. Know what makes your business distinct—and communicate that
The most important part of your sales pitch is communicating what makes you different. Why is your product the best? What does it provide that nobody else in the industry can? Why is your product the cheaper, classier, greener, or smarter choice?
In a market where customers are constantly seeing ads, they’re tired of canned responses to these questions. You need to give them hard-hitting answers filled with specific details that will prove you understand their needs. Providing these answer is going to require thought and research, so do the legwork necessary to refine your pitch, including research about your industry and competitors. Know your elevator pitch backwards and forwards. And once you know it, drill it into your sales reps and put it on your website.
3. Get to know your audience
Getting noticed in the small business world might be harder these days, but your goal isn’t to go viral or turn into a retail phenomenon. Your goal is to be seen by the type of people who will convert into sales. How do you do this? By knowing exactly who you’re trying to sell to and exactly how to get in front of their eyes.
Market research is really the only way to understand your customers when you’re getting started, but if your business has been selling for years, leverage your current customers for information. Send out surveys and interview them about your products. Are there other products they’re dying to have but haven’t found in your store yet?
Beyond what they’re looking for, you also need to know how they spend their time. Where do they like to hang out online? What motivates them to buy? What form of social media can they never get enough of? These are powerful pieces of information that tell you how your potential customers think and how to market to them. If you craft your message for the right people and advertise in the right places, your potential customers will convert easily. Get out there knowing what you’re doing and you’ll already be way ahead of most small businesses.
4. Build a community around your product
This is a big one. In our high-tech world, people are always occupied. They’re very unlikely to slow down and notice your product unless they have some kind of personal connection to it, whether that’s caring about the problem you’re solving or realizing their neighbor down the street uses your product.
The easiest way to forge personal connections to your customers is to provide something that will interest them. Share relevant content over social media and encourage discussions between your customers. If you’re offering specialty spa products to health-conscience moms, start building a Pinterest board or posting health blog posts on your company Facebook page. If you sell furniture to homeowners on a budget, share content about finances and easy home improvement. The more you get your customers talking about things that matter to them, the more your product will matter to them. This will lead to more sales and more word-of-mouth recommendations amongst your fans.
5. Remember the details
Love really is in the details, and so is business success. Your customers are used to being treated like one of one thousand, so your job is to show them through actions, not words, that you really do see them as a valued individual. How you do this depends on the type of retail establishment you’re running, but there are always way to personalize your sales experience.
In-store perks like free drinks or goodies to take home are never a bad idea. And attentive, empathic salespeople also help immensely. When you can’t assist your customers in person, provide simple, helpful ways for them to get what they need promptly. An intuitive website or an easy-to-use sales app are both fantastic options. Do whatever it takes to show them you really are at their service and not just claiming to be.
6. Make meaningful course corrections based on research and observation
Too many businesses make changes based on their mood that day. To get ahead of the pack, you need to be smarter than your average small business owner. And the secret lies in making deliberate, strategic changes and testing them as you go.
Immerse yourself in the metrics. Make a change to your sales process and watch your metrics for one month. If they go up, it was a good idea. Make changes to your company website and keep an eye on conversion rates. If it goes down, you may have complicated your user experience instead of improving it. It’s okay to try something new, but don’t forget to test, test, test so you can make informed decisions.
Beyond watching metrics, you also need to watch your customers like a hawk. Notice which products they’re gravitating to. Pay attention to their preferences online and their interactions with you on social media. Your job isn’t just to give them what they want; it’s to give them what they want before they even know themselves.
7. Have at least one memorable detail in your sales process
Last but certainly not least, make your buying experience something people will remember. A little creativity can go a long way, so surprise your customer in a way they won’t forget.
What kind of surprise this should be totally depends on your industry and the personality of your company. But don’t hesitate to make it something very personal, very show-stopping, or very fun. Maybe it’s a handwritten thank-you note with a killer discount on their next purchase. Maybe it’s a free consultation for new customers. Maybe it’s delivering their order with a gift bag or a bottle of wine. The point is to wow your audience into remembering that you exist and you were great. This factor beyond anything else will make you stand out as a small retailer.