Consumers Still Prefer to Shop Local
Despite all the perks and value behemoth online retailers like Amazon can give to customers, local businesses are still a preferred shopping destination. A slew of recent surveys show that consumers are spending locally and plan to for a long time.
Customer Service is King
Most local businesses can’t hope to compete with the prices at big box retailers or online stores, but customers are willing to pay a bit more if they feel that a local business can serve other needs. In one survey, 96 percent of consumers felt that local retailers were better at personalizing their services. They also believe that customer service in general is better with local stores, and that they are more likely to be treated fairly.
It’s Your Community
Good customer service isn’t the only reason consumers flock to local establishments. Over 70 percent of survey respondents felt that it was important to buy local. They want to impact their local economy and contribute the the growth of a small business. Studies have shown that upwards of 60 percent of money spent locally stays in the community. Another survey showed that nearly 80 percent don’t believe the federal government does enough to promote small business.
Local stores are great for shoppers that want to own something when they buy it. The instant gratification of a purchase that you can hold in your hands is very powerful indeed. This is especially true for items like clothing that often need to be tried on to get the right fit. Returns are also a bigger headache online, when you have to place an item in a box and make sure it gets somewhere and then a replacement is sent back, possibly weeks later. Being able to talk about product issues and resolve them quickly with a live person is still very appealing to consumers.
Make it Better
While shoppers want the local experience, they still want some of the perks of online shopping added into the small business economy. The number one issue was, of course, lower prices. Consumers still want a good bang for their buck. But they also offered some solutions, like offering loyalty programs for frequent shoppers. They also want local businesses to broaden their offerings and expand business hours. The 24 hour online economy is hard to replicate with an actual business, but a few extra hours outside normal business time may do the trick. Ironically, consumers also want free Wi-Fi and better websites for their local stores. They want to read service reviews and check prices against online competitors. Some even want to purchase online and pick up in the store. And more and more consumers want to be able to pay with their mobile phone when they get to the register.
Local business can still thrive in the online economy. They simply have to keep doing the things they have always done: provide great customer service, offer diverse goods at competitive prices, and connect with their local community. Doing these things will help local business owners combat the onslaught of online options.