The Following Story was written by: Dan Pankratz. CO Founder of the Exchange Collective.
Let’s go back in time. Do you remember what the Yellow pages were? The Yellow pages reps would come in the shop to sell placement in their books. They would bring in the current book, show you what the competition was doing, and all the listing categories your business should be in. I can’t remember what the cost was, but I do remember spending a good chunk of cash to make sure our shop, One Way Boardshop, would be seen. The Yellow pages had very little, to no metrics to determine any ROI. Yet I, like most business back then, would sign contracts for hundreds of dollars a month in hopes that customers would pick up the yellow pages and find us.
Today the Yellow pages have been replaced with the internet. Unless you live under a rock, you know the growth of online shopping, and purchasing has skyrocketed. This means your customers are online and this is not going to ever change! It is easy to think “I can’t compete online”. With Amazon, brand’s direct to consumer sites, marketplaces, and online discounting, a lot of small retailers feel like there is no use in evening trying. The idea of investing time and money into creating a web site that may only account for a small percentage of a Brick and Mortar store’s sales, may seem like a waste of time.
If you think the only reason you need an online store is to compete with the big players, think again. According to a 2019 Digital report the average time spent online in the USA was 6h 31min, just under the worlds average of 6h 42min
Your customers are spending nearly 1/3 of their day in the digital world. This suggests that they are spending more time online searching, shopping, and socializing, than doing these activities in the physical world. You picked your store’s location based on a few factors, and one of those would be how much traffic is possible.
If we know the modern person is spending this much time online, the mindset about your online store is not about competing for just sales, it is really about competing for visibility. Unlike spending money to advertise in the yellow pages, online advertising provides data to support your ROI on every dollar you spend. There are plenty of ways to advertise online without spending cash. Social media, email campaigns, and blog posts don’t cost money, just your time. Spending time creating content to advertise in free channels is as important as turning on the lights in your store so customers can shop.
This holiday season instead of trying to compete with discounts to win your customers over, focus on making sure your customers see you first.