Growing your business
How High Street Businesses Can Keep Up With Bigger Brands
Walking down your local high street, it may seem as if business is dominated by bigger brands. But if you look a little closer, you’ll see that there are still many smaller high street businesses that are thriving too. And their success is based upon them being innovative and creative enough to keep up with their more widely-known competitors.
According to research carried out by Local Business Week, almost two thirds of local business owners feel able to compete with more established household names. And more than 90% are also optimistic about their ability to provide value for money in relation to their bigger rivals.
So with that in mind, here are a few tips for high street businesses to successfully stand on their own:
Learn From Bigger Brands
It comes as no surprise that due to their scale and size, bigger brands are easily able to keep their prices competitive and stock a wider range of products. However, instead of pitching your high street business directly against your biggest competitors, it might be more worthwhile to focus on standing out as an independant business. Once you have that mindset in place, you can set your efforts on learning from bigger brands - rather than directly rivalling them - to help carve out your own success.
The first thing to look at is what mistakes they have made. Visit their social media channels and see what their customers are saying about them;after all, their customer base is your customer base. This could give you valuable information on current shortfalls and how you could fill these. You should also look at what brands are doing really well and think about tailoring these ideas to suitably fit your business. If the area is already heavily saturated by bigger brands then it might be a better idea to focus on other areas where your business can stand out instead.
Listen To Your Customers
A distinct advantage of being a smaller high street business is that you can get to know your customers on a much more personal level than the bigger brands can, and are therefore able to go that extra mile for them. As the needs of the modern customer are changing so fast, being flexible and responding to demand is crucial.
One way to do this is by asking browsing customers what they’re looking for in store, and you can also ask customers paying for items if they found everything they were looking for during their visit. Just a couple of simple questions like these can provide golden opportunities for you to gather customer insight and rotate stock on demand. The key here is to respond quickly and let your customers know that you have taken their requests on board and catered to them. This also allows you to be more focused and specific with your product or service offering which is sure to set you apart from the competition.
Inspire Through Visual Merchandising
Unlike bigger brands who are often controlled centrally, smaller high street businesses have the freedom to get creative with visual merchandising and displays. This could be through printed window displays, banners or product displays.
Seasonal events such as Christmas, Easter and Back to School provides the perfect opportunity to show off your products and services. The shop window really is one of the most effective offline advertising mediums and usually costs next to nothing!
Donna Coward who owns florist Venus in Flowers in Theydon Bois, says, “I’ll always do a themed window display depending on what events or occasions are happening at the time. It keeps things fresh and draws the customers in.”
When it comes to marketing, smaller high street businesses could have everything to gain from incorporating social media into their communication efforts. Using social media to communicate with customers is crucial so that you can continue the conversation even after they’ve left your store. It also gives you the chance to tell them about any promotions, offers or events you have on, as well as individually connecting and responding to customers in real time.
Donna Coward from Venus in Flowers, says, “I’ve just started using social media which is great for a such a visual business like mine. It also means I can communicate with more of my customers at once.”
Make Payments Simple
Making the customer experience as seamless as possible could make all the difference between a customer returning to your store, or shopping elsewhere. One way to do this is by making sure that customers are able to pay by card. With an increasing amount of people paying by card, which is set to exceed cash transactions over the next few years, ensuring this process is as hassle-free as possible is key. It’s also a good idea to offer contactless payments and avoid having a minimum spend to help customers sail through the transaction process.
So while it may seem like bigger brands always have the last word, there are plenty of ways that smaller high street businesses can come out on top!