Local independent retailers contribute a good chunk of their income to the local economy. Supporting the local economy is crucial to preserving communities, as these contributions benefit schools, road construction, emergency services, and much more. Keeping money in the local economy allows businesses to employ local people, creates greater economic opportunities, and generates tax revenue for city services.
Challenges of Being an Independent Retailer
It can be quite challenging for indie retailers to stay afloat in the digital age, when consumers are able to order merchandise and get it delivered free at the click of a button.
Large corporations have robust and intricate websites, as well as the resources to hire people to work on those websites. More often than not, independent retailers are responsible for creating their own websites and don’t generally have the expertise to design sites that will rank high in Google searches or are outfitted with ecommerce capabilities. Typically, indie retailers also have smaller budgets for marketing, expansion, and store maintenance.
Another drawback to being an independent retailer is a lack of negotiating power and group discounts for merchandise. Since priority shipping is more often than not given to large orders, indie retailers may also lose out on best-selling items. Simply because they’re
smaller, they’re considered a lower priority.
Benefits of Being an Independent Retailer
At the same time, there are distinct benefits and advantages to running an indie retail business that you just can’t get in a large-scale operation.
Owning an independent retail company gives you certain freedoms that you wouldn’t enjoy otherwise. You can create your own unique space and be creative with it. You can choose whom you want to work with and set your own schedule. You can also be a positive influence in the community and with your customers.
Agility is another significant benefit of an independently owned retail operation. Smaller companies are able to react quickly to local trends, including weather conditions. Owners are often available to personally communicate with customers when they wish to share their concerns. As a result, local businesses become keenly aware of their customers’ specific wants and needs.
Independent retailers are able to quickly adjust when the retail climate changes. Larger retailers can’t do so as easily and end up scrambling to change the way they do business in clumsy, inefficient ways.
Secrets to Success for Independent Retailers
Savvy indie retailers know what it takes to not only stay in business but thrive. Here are four secrets to continued success for independent retailers:
1) Change with the Times
Being an independent retailer will keep you on your toes. Stay current with trends and welcome change – don’t fear it! Be on the lookout for new vendors, find ways to broaden your client base, and implement ongoing training for your staff.
2) Focus on Top-Notch Customer Service
Excellent customer service breeds enduring success. As an indie retailer, you must be the local authority to all things related to your field. This allows you to advise your customers confidently. If you don’t have an answer to a customer’s question, acknowledge that you don’t. Customers respect truthfulness in businesses, as it helps build trust with them. When customers trust your business, they will keep coming back to you.
3) Take Calculated Risks
Keep learning and evolving your way of thinking. Be willing to try out new ideas in a judicious manner. When experimenting with new methods or processes, always think long-term, keeping a careful eye on your cashflow as well.
4) Be Exclusive
Aim to get as many exclusive lines of merchandise in your store as possible. Customers will continue to shop with you when they know that your products are unique. Rely on the expertise of your buyers to bring in a regional assortment that appeals to consumers.