We tend to go to the local restaurants and specialty retailers. Not out of any specific “buy local” purpose or bucking the behemoth retailers. After all, the big stores employ local people as well and some are truly excellent.
The reason we usually go local is the quality of product and service suits our needs just fine. From delectable chocolates from Morden’s (oh so good), to a fresh turkey from Public Meats and garlic sausage from Metro Meats (the Ringleader!) to fresh roasted coffee from Black Pearl (a new local fave) to baked goods from_______. Every store is exceptional except the last category. And I am not going to name names.
Why not name them? Because everything was outstanding except the one item that we pre-ordered that wasn’t packed for us. And no effort made to offset our missing item. And we will order again unless I find a comparable bakery for these specialty products. If I do? Adios _______!!!
And this is how local retailers can lose the fight against online and chain stores. Their benefit has been quality and service over the years. The moment one of these factors is absent I am obliged to look elsewhere. I am not forced to look elsewhere, but you are pushing me with your lack of caring.
A good friend was looking for a new cover for his hot tub. HE checked with his Winnipeg supplier and was given a hefty price. When he checked online, from a Canadian supplier, there was a substantial price difference. When he went back to his local company they said “nope” to any type of price adjustment. My friend wasn’t even looking for a price match. But when the cost is upwards of 30% different, with no attempt by the local co to talk about the advantages of buying local (service, return, convenience, etc) my chum bought online.
The decisions that front line people make, or are allowed to make, can have all the impact on the overall customer experience and the propensity for a customer to buy local. It isn’t always about cost. Even though social media experts tell companies to have an offer ready; read discount.
I haven’t seen the numbers yet, but it sure seems like certain categories are still strongly in the buy in-store success. Some products are simply cheaper to buy online, or are they? One must capture the shipping costs and return policy to evaluate the overall customer experience.
We bought nothing online this year – everything was in store. Except a new laptop for out youngest that was ordered online and reviewed and picked up in store.
Every store we visited on different days and at different times was busy. I don’t claim to know what might have been ordered for pickup, but there were lots of bags leaving the stores. I know people researched price and availability ahead of time (why wouldn’t you) but the purchases were in store.
The local retailers know that they can sell online and some do well. But the bulk of the sales are still in person.
How do I know? I asked them.
And this is a special tip for everyone – when in doubt talk to your customer. Preferably when they are in the store. Chances are you can keep them coming back.
And one more tip. To avoid a death spiral for your store, please make sure that you get customer’s orders correct. In those rare occurrences when a mistake is made please empower your staff to “make it right” when you hand the bag of baked goodness to the customer.
“Sorry” doesn’t cut it anymore when there are other options.
Play to your strengths and you can keep your customers locked in to you for years to come.