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Three tips to help you fight back against the big dogs of online retail

February 2, 2012

In January, ran a promotion encouraging consumers to use its mobile app. If customers purchased an item via its app while in a retailers’ store, Amazon provided a monetary incentive to choose the online e-tailer over the brick-and-mortar store.

Retailers were outraged. It had finally happened–online retailers were turning small, independent and even chain stores into showrooms for the online giants. How could retailers ever compete with its online counterparts’ low-priced inventory?

Retailers would be hard-pressed to do so. Retailers have to acknowledge that the price wars are…well, over. Instead, successful retailing will depend on retailers’ ability to do the following for each customer that enters the store:

(1) Offer an exceptional experience–that can’t be recreated online. This is the biggest opportunity for retailers. With a little effort (and some teamwork), retailers can bring the magic back to shopping. It can be as simple as offering classes for customers to learn how to use products, or have local celebrities in-store to showcase their favorite items.

(2) Rethink the store footprint. Instead of having 30 kinds of hammers, why not have the two hammers that everyone wants? Ensure that the right inventory is easily accessible and clearly visible with effective, inviting signage.

(3) Don’t sell–consult. Customers are coming to the store because they didn’t get what they needed from manufacturers’ websites or Amazon. They already know about the items’ best and worst qualities. Don’t be a salesman; rather, be a likable expert that the customer will come back to time and time again for insight and advice. 

Michael Koploy, an analyst at Software Advice–an online resource for buyers interested in retail software solutions–has put together an in-depth guide for independent retailers, including complementing technology to assist these strategies. To see the guide check out: How to Differentiate Your Store from Online Retailers | A Guide to Independent Retail in 2012

What strategies do you use to fight back against the big online retailers? Share a comment below!

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