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How To Win Customers When You Can't Compete On Price.

It is a painful and well worn fact that Mom and Pop stores can't compete on price with big box stores. But, don't be so quick to throw in the towel, because there are levels on which you can compete. Every Goliath is vulnerable somewhere. They may be able to out purchase you, but it is only at the expense of agility, customer service and value.

As a small local shop, you can out maneuver the big stores by offering a better shopping experience, capitalizing on new trends faster, providing responsive customer service and many other strategies that will not just win customers, but the right customers.

Just as there will always be a competitor that is willing to cut their own throat to out-price you, there will be consumers who will sacrifice a good shopping experience for cut-throat prices. These consumers will never be your customers, so why waste time, energy and advertising competing for them? Your customers value the experience you provide and are willing to pay a fair price for it. Whether it's convenience, knowledge, access or trust, you have the advantage over corporate monoliths when you compete to your strengths for the right customers.

Convenience.
Without even trying, you win on convenience. You're shop is in the neighborhood, it is large enough to provide a decent selection without requiring a map and guide service to navigate and it is staffed by friendly, local people who want to help. No contest. Use your website and local mailings to promote a convenient, friendly shopping experience.

Value.
Yes, the same products can be purchased a few miles away for a few cents less give or take, but how long will customers spend standing in lines, looking for parking and fighting traffic? The overall shopping experience has a greater value when there is less stress and fewer logistical hurdles to overcome.

Appreciation.
As a small business, you can take advantage of many more opportunities to connect with your customers and let them know they are welcome and their business is appreciated. Anticipating needs, making an extra effort to stock a certain item or promising to call when an item becomes available is practically effortless for you but nearly impossible for your competitors.

Being Social.
Beyond the usual greetings and polite comments at the register, you can take your customer relations a step further by creating a newsletter or email blast each month highlighting local features and events. Hold special events, 'How-To's' or specials guests at your store; team up with other local businesses for an Ice Cream Social, pumpkin carving contest or similar community events. The list is practically endless and limited only by your imagination.

Finally, look for associations in your area that promote local patronage. Join your chamber of commerce and stay engaged with your fellow business owners and the community. Compete where you have the advantage and win the right customers.

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