Comments on: Why do customers shop at local small businesses? Grow your own Thu, 26 Mar 2015 12:32:24 +0000 hourly 1 By: psalehi Mon, 10 Oct 2011 05:12:07 +0000 Ms. Rabiner,
I enjoyed reading your post and was pleasantly surprised to read that consumers still shop at locally owned, independent retailers. The links and statistics provided were especially informative such as how you stated, “in a small business survey, ninety-three percent of respondents believe that it’s important to support local small businesses.” I was even more surprised that consumers spend about one third of their monthly discretionary income at these stores. I agree that these independent retailers’ main advantages over large retail chains are friendly employees and product knowledge. There’s a book, The Loyalty Effects (a Harvard Business School Publishing) that reiterated your point and showed successful companies in any field of enterprise had one common trait—they had low employee turnover rates. Additionally, I think the ability for smaller independent stores to cross-train employees is another significant advantage over large retail chains that have employees specialized in departments. From a consumer standpoint, you want to be able to walk in the store and ask anyone in there for the help you need rather than having to be directed to the right person. An even better situation is walking in a store and knowing the person working inside on a first-name basis. This level of familiarity and comfort provides a certain amount of loyalty and trust that can often supersede lower prices. What’s your view on cross-training vs. specialization of employees?
While, these small stores have certain advantages, I also think it’s still very challenging for local owned stores to compete with the convenience level of megastores like Wal-Mart and Target where a customer can buy all their desired products (clothes, food, electronics, and more) at one store. How do you think small retail stores can compete with the convenience levels that Wal-Mart and Target stores provide, especially as they continue to expand and become even more popular? Large retail chains also have much more resources in learning about their consumers. For example, are you aware of the checkout scanners and data-mining software that provides retailers with insights into local preferences and buying behaviors? I think these types of consumer research tools would be very beneficial and is becoming necessary for any sized retail chain, large or small.