Impact of online retail giants on small business
Amazon has arrived in Australia and there is no doubt that it has a long term strategy and deep pockets — but that is not a reason for Australian retailers to be fearful.
I believe that the best protection from disruption is relationship. Creating and nurturing a strong relationship with your customers is essential and this is what small local businesses do so well. People still like doing business with people.
There has been a lot of confusion in the consumer space around the launch and I would urge consumers to shop around, compare and consciously make the decision of what business you want to be supporting when purchasing. It can also represent an opportunity for small businesses to promote their products to audiences they have not reached before.
Small Business Retailers — what to do now?
For small business owners’, life has never been more challenging. Customers seem more elusive and more expensive to find and the media is full of conversations about disruption. There is no industry immune to disruption and the only possible way to protect one’s market position is through relentless customer experience (and innovation).
Small businesses do have advantages against any large players including Amazon, which is on the other end of the spectrum and are a business known for their transaction-only relationships.
I’ve found that many customers contact small businesses wanting their advice. People want to be able to talk to somebody and ask them specific questions and hear insights from actual people who can offer them advice. For instance, at RedBalloon this Christmas, if you’re not sure what to buy a loved one, you can call a member of the RedBalloon customer experience team. They’re on hand to assist you with guidance and an over-the-phone personal shopping experience (1300 875 500 if you want a personal shopper). I see an opportunity for small businesses to step up, showcase themselves and provide the appropriate insights for their customers to be their trusted advisor and guide.
This Christmas, RedBalloon has physically gone into the Myer Giftorium with our own booth offering virtual reality experiences of several actual experiences you can do ‘in real life’. Our intention in doing so was to get out there and meet our customers face to face. We want to be talking to consumers and enhancing our relationships.
People are often asking me: how do small businesses keep their customers close? My response is to go back to the intrinsic and traditional marketing routes including building a database and one-on-one marketing.
Last week I was interviewed by Sky News Business where I give greater insight into my view of the state of retail in Australia, you can watch the video below:
The online space appears cluttered so building relationships for you and your brand is important. Despite all of this, two weeks out from Christmas I am cautiously optimistic for what is to come. It is the time to build strong relationships with customers that will help build future success.