5 Ways to Save Small Businesses From Extinction
Small businesses have it tough these days. With technology, e-commerce and mobile becoming fast growing trends, it’s only becoming more difficult to survive in what is arguably the backbone of the US economy. With that said, here are 5 ways you can fight back the 800lb gorillas and win:
1. Get e-commerce on your website:
If you don’t have a website, stop reading the rest of this, go buy a domain and get yourself a website right away. There are plenty of simple web builders, lots of them for free/cheap. A lot of services also allow you to set up e-commerce, which is a little bit trickier, but allowing your customers to place their orders online is critical to keeping up with consumer behavior. And if you are feeling extra daring, work on making your website mobile friendly. Again, there are many tools that make your site mobile optimized, so do some research and find the one that is best for you.
2. Tap into existing marketplaces:
eBay and Amazon are the powerhouses, but there are lots of e-commerce marketplaces sprouting up that focus on specific verticals. Even the latest concept of social commerce allows people to offer their time, car or home to consumers (Airbnb, Lyft, TaskRabbit).
3. Get on Google local listing and Yelp:
Google and Yelp love local businesses. If you haven’t setup your Google local listing or Yelp page, get on it. These are the best ways for consumers to find your business without having to pay. Once you set up these pages, make sure to get your customers to leave you reviews. More great reviews not only gets your listing higher up on the results page, but it makes new customers more likely to shop from you. Although they are not as powerful, don’t forget other sites like Yahoo, Bing and Yellow Pages. Given that all these are free listings, leverage as many as you can. It will only help.
4. Stay in front of your customers:
Email marketing is still the clear winner for customer retention, so as you collect email addresses from your customers through your website, make sure you set up email campaigns to get back in touch with them. Let them know about new inventory, special discounts or updates to your business. There are free tools you can use (Mailchimp, Constant Contact) that will allow you to make beautiful emails to send out to your list of customers. Social media is another extremely effective way to stay in front of your customers. Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook are the most popular platforms and are all completely free to use. Each one has a different way of engaging with people, so do some homework and find out the best way to leverage each one to its fullest potential.
5. Product knowledge and customer service are hard to beat:
You might offer the same products and even the same prices, but giving the best customer service and experience is something that will always be unique to your business. Keep customers coming back with your deep knowledge in your space, with super customer service and with friendly staff. At the end of the day, most of what people sell is a commodity with relatively low barrier to entry. But what takes a lot of hard work is service. Companies like Nordstroms, Trader Joe’s and Zappos have succeeded in creating this service oriented model and have created incredibly successful and sustainable customer retention.Contributed by Farbod Shoraka, Co-Founder and CEO of BloomNation.com. BloomNation is known as the “Etsy for flowers” and is disrupting the online flower industry by allowing customers to shop directly with top local artisan florists all over the country. There are over 2,000 top florists part of BloomNation who hand deliver to more than 3,000 cities nationwide (and the numbers are growing every day). Each customer also receives a “BloomSnap,” which is a photo of the completed arrangement before it’s delivered so the customer knows that what was ordered is what will be received. Photo Credit: Provided by retailer Dilly Lily, courtesy of BloomNation.com with permission to use.