We are in lockdown; Black Friday is looming, and Christmas is around the corner. If you are a small business looking to capitalise on this period, the thoughts of going up against the big retail giants like Amazon can be daunting.
We are not here to say you have nothing to worry about. Let's face it you do. But we are here to give you a few tips on how to be the David to consumerism's Goliath.
As part of our Boost My Business initiative Fiona Alston chatted to Scurri CEO Rory O'Connor for tips on holding your own over the next few months.
Scurri is a Wexford based software provider that connects and optimises the eCommerce ordering shipping and delivery process of online retailers.
Find their weakness and use your strengths – so you can’t compete with them so don’t be them, be you – use your strengths. You have the knowledge and advice on all of your products. So give that directly to your customers. If you are a niche seller use your personalised advice and experience as leverage.
Use the national momentum of shop local – use it, don’t lose it. If you put in the effort people will give your business a chance. Think local yourself, don’t spend all your time chasing new customers nationwide when you can be tapping into the community support of your own local area.
Be creative – give your customers an experience to remember, something to talk about to spread the good word about you. It can be as simple as a kind word, a hand written note or a small treat with their purchase.
Simplify your payment system – is it quick and easy for people to pay you? Can they pay you securely online? If you haven’t upgraded your payment system Stripe is worth taking a look at.
Can you deliver? – Try to make it easy for local people to collect items from the shop with a click and collect service. If you are doing local delivery, why not have a daily or weekly drop? Try to build relationships with shop owners in other towns in your local to see if you can use them as a collection point - it simplifies the service plus it saves you on time and money in the long run. In delivery, the last mile is often the hardest.
Shop around for a courier service – Your courier service is an integral part of your business so shop around to find the best fit for you. It’s going to get busy from here on in so having reliable nationwide, or overseas delivery is a must. Ask your network for advice on who they find best. An Post shouldn’t be overlooked here, they have some great options for small businesses and have their own click and collect service too.
Be ready now – People are shopping early for Christmas so be ready now. It’s likely there will be no peak so don’t be waiting for one. What are you waiting for? Get online now and start capitalising on those sales.
Don’t stress about SEO, use your social media – you're not going to improve your SEO now so concentrate on what you can improve. If you need to get the word out about your new website, why not get your followers on social media to spread the word for you? Run a small competition (within the competition guidelines of each platform) to get your post spread far and wide. If you are on Twitter why not tweet it out and ask for retweets?
You don’t need to compete with Black Friday – be innovative. Can’t afford to compete with Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Then don’t! If you can do an offer, why not run it over a few days before hand? Or partner with a charity for the day and give back on every sale you make. Be honest with you customers and let them know why you can’t compete with Black Friday offers – there are a lot less people penny pinching this year so offer them great customer service in place of the €20 - €30 they would be saving by purchasing on Amazon.
Plan ahead – While most of us are in a rush to see the back of 2020 don’t get to the other side of Christmas without a plan! You should be thinking about the January sales period now and how you are going to manage that if we do happen to go back into another lockdown.