Years ago I worked in retail on both sides. I started out working for an electrical goods chain store, then moved onto a smaller local one.
Both jobs were great (at least for me), because they satisfied the tech geek in me. Surrounded by home theater kits and massive TV’s? Sign me up!
But as much as I loved working at the big chain store, it never felt fulfilling.
We had to pretty much stick to a sales script and only if we were lucky could we occasionally offer our own take.
We weren’t encouraged to be ourselves.
Same went for special promotions. If a brand was paying to be highlighted that month, you had to sell toward that brand, even if another product was clearly the better one for the customer. It was snake oil salesmen tactics at their worst.
Jump to the little store, however, and the difference was palpable. You actually talked with your customers; asked what they wanted; offered your advice; agreed on essentials versus luxuries; and built an understanding.
Most of all, you were talking as if you were the customer.
No BS; no sales crap; no false advertising. Just simple customer-to-customer selling. And it worked. And continues to do so today.
Think about it. When you last went to a record store, or DVD store, or video games store that belonged to a chain, did you come away with just a purchase or a transaction? Because there is a difference.
Did you feel that you had bought your purchase yourself, or had bought it because it was sold to you? And I don’t mean because the salesperson picked it up and showed you what was on sale; I mean it was really sold to you.
The Indie Effect
From my experiences, independent retailers score every time over the chain stores. Sure, you get the occasional bright spark at a major retailer who lets their passion shine through. But generally, it’s just a job to them.
Indie retailers, on the other hand, love what they’re doing. They live the atmosphere that the small store brings. They know customers by name. They know the difference between Product A and Product B because they use it and learn about it, and not because they’ve read some manufacturer spiel. Then they pass that learning on.
Sure, the major stores might get the big deals from the manufacturers, but as the collapse of some of the big brands in business show, it’s not always about the best deals. At least, not price-wise.
Instead, a lot of the success is coming from the little independent guys jumping in and making people know about their service. By talking to them. By listening to what their customers want. By being the customer.
Be an Independent Retailer
Social media. Marketing. PR. Advertising. Customer service. Business deals. Business building. Branding. Unbranding.
Everything you do day in, day out – are you being a major retailer or are you being the independent retailer? Are you saying and doing what all your competitors are doing or are you doing what you’redoing?
There’s a big difference in approach and sales time is fast approaching. So. What are you?