I can’t believe I’m talking about this, but as you’ve likely heard, due to supply chain shortages, customers are being asked to start their holiday shopping early. As in, right now. Otherwise, they run the risk of their gift not arriving on time.
“When the world’s manufacturers came back online, there was a surge in products that were ordered and just a finite amount of capacity of ships, of trucks, of warehouses, and the infrastructure that exists can’t handle the volume,” Craig Fuller, CEO of FreightWaves told NBC News correspondent Tom Costello on TODAY.
Also, the news outlet reported a survey of retail executives conducted by the firm KPMG found 82% of those polled were somewhat or very concerned about inventory shortages this year. Yikes. How can you make sure you’re ready for holiday sales? And more importantly, how can you compete with mega-retailers? In essence, it’s by doing what you do best – specializing.
When people want to buy generic, nothing-special products like a full-length mirror, they go to a megastore like Target. But when people want to buy a full-length mirror fashioned from reclaimed wood with flower carvings flowing up the sides, they see a woodworker. That same principle applies to all local businesses – play to your niche. Have a specific buyer persona in mind and focus on those buyers. For instance, Web Symphonies is a web design company, but we understand we’re better off targeting people looking for a Charlotte web designer. In that case, we’re not competing with some huge web design firm – we’re looking for people who want to work with a local web design company.
How May We Help You?
One of the reasons people choose to work with small businesses is the personalized attention. If you offer excellent customer service, people not only respond well – they tell their friends. Bring your A-game to customer service by answering questions swiftly, tailoring your responses to each customer, and giving accurate shipping estimates. Remember that not only will it help you attract new customers, it will also help you retain the customers you do have. Web Symphonies doesn’t sell any products, but as an NC web design company, we do deal with clients. Our attention on clients shows – many of our clients we’ve worked with for years.
Be a Hare
You know the story of the tortoise and the hare? With your online store, slow and steady does not win the race. Instead, be like the hare. Or a cheetah. In other words, be as fast as you can. Several factors can hinder how quickly your online store loads, including the following:
- A crummy hosting plan
- Not optimizing your images
- Too many scripts on your pages
- Not browser caching
If everything I listed above sounds like goobily-gook, never fear, Web Symphonies is here! Yes, we help with web design in Charlotte, NC, but we also help with redesign, internet marketing, and just general website stuff. (Think of us as your web sensai.) If you’d like help optimizing your website, reach out to us.
You likely knew this tip was coming, but I have to mention it anyway: use social media! Be smart about it though. If your demographic is young Millennials or the burgeoning Gen Z, they don’t hang out on Facebook. Similarly, retired folks are less likely to be found on LinkedIn because they don’t care as much about professional networking.
When it comes to social media (as with all things really), know your audience! After learning about your audience, then you can speak to them. For Instagram and Twitter, hashtags are key to “joining the conversation,” but not all hashtags work in the same way. For instance, if you use the hashtag of your business name, that will help you determine who is posting about your company and your products, but it won’t necessarily help you attract new customers or clients. For that, see what hashtags the people you follow use. Is it #webdesignersrock or #webdesigninglikeaboss? If so, use those!
Also, don’t underestimate the power of influencers. If you come across an influencer you think would enjoy your product or service, reach out to them. Many are willing to tout a product for a free sample while others will do it for a nominal fee. You never know if you don’t ask.
If social media is outside your wheelhouse, that’s fine. You don’t have to know everything and do everything on your own (even if it feels that way sometimes as a small business owner). Reach out to a social media professional for help. That support could make all the difference to your business.
Keep ‘em Coming Back
Another thing to keep in mind is your online store doesn’t need to generate all of your income. Sure, you’ll experience a boom for the holiday season, but you can keep your income more consistent by offering a subscription-based service. Maybe that means a Christmas ornament of the month club, freebies, discounts, or exclusive deals for members. Whatever the subscription is, it has to jive with your business. It would be strange to offer a subscription to a wine club if your business has something to do with gardening.
So there you have it – some tips to help you compete with mega-retailers. At first, contending with the likes of Amazon can seem daunting, but remember the story about David and Goliath – the little guy has a fighting chance. Play to your strengths: specialization, good customer service, and being local. You can do this! And if you need support, we’re just an email away.