If you run a small business, chances are you’ve realized how tough it can be to compete with giants like Amazon. After all, customers who shop through major retailers can often find lower prices on a huge variety of products and have them at their door in no time. In that sense, it can feel like an uphill battle to attract new customers and retain the ones you have, but if you’re willing to take risks and have the tenacity required for success, it can be done.
Your small business has an advantage that most retail behemoths don’t have: You can discover your niche and provide world-class products and customer service. If you embrace your brand personality and focus on catering to your niche in these ways, you don’t have to worry about offering the most products at the cheapest price.
No matter what kind of products you sell, here are some practical tips to help you embrace your company’s identity and shine among the competition.
Use a Staffing Agency
First of all, if you have a warehouse that isn’t running efficiently, you stand no chance in competing with companies like Amazon. Fortunately, you can fill positions by going through a staffing agency. If you need immediate help, consider using on-demand labor through a temp agency to keep your warehouse running well; this will buy you some time to find and hire the right full-time employees. Plus, another major perk of going through a staffing agency is that they can take care of payroll responsibilities.
Many customers prefer to support companies that operate under a purpose that goes deeper than money. The purpose can be anything as long as it helps people. For instance, eyeglass manufacturer Warby Parker donates a pair of eyeglasses to someone in need for every pair they sell. If you already have a purpose, or once you find it, be sure to make it clear to customers (and potential customers) through your website, marketing, and product packaging.
Focus on Product Quality
Customers won’t forget quality. While developing top-notch products can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a business, it can also carry some of the most weight in regard to solidifying your company’s reputation and sustaining long-term growth. Whether you make boutique light fixtures or dropship accessory items, make sure your customers are getting the best they can buy. They’ll definitely remember this trait going forward.
Inspire Customer Loyalty
If you want to retain customers, you must prioritize customer service. It’s now easier than ever for customers to quickly find another source to purchase an item if they’re unhappy with the customer service and support they receive from your company. Make sure your website clearly lays out your company’s contact information, and try to respond to customer inquiries and feedback — both positive and negative — as promptly as possible.
Add Shipping Incentives
These days, shipping matters — a lot. If you don’t want a customer leaving your website because your shipping costs more and takes much longer than Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping, you need to revisit your shipping strategy. It may require an upfront investment, but it can ultimately make you more money. For instance, look at your budget and see if you can afford to offer free or discounted shipping on all products, or at least offer free shipping on purchases over a certain amount (e.g., $50, $100, etc.).
It’s not easy to compete with Amazon and the like, but it’s possible if you use your small business format to your advantage. Consider going through a staffing agency if you’re experiencing warehouse problems. Make sure your company has a purpose that people can believe in, and focus on the quality of your products. Finally, prioritize customer service, and figure out a shipping strategy that appeals to customers. If you give customers a reason to choose your company over major competitors, they will.