By James Anderson
Smart indie retailers are always looking for ways to attract customers and build business. One way to grow is to cultivate a local following. Here are some tips for expanding your local customer base and sales.
Establish your brand
Before you can take up arms against the all under one roof crowd, it is important that you establish your brand. In other words, you need to ask yourself who you are and what you represent as a retailer. Having a sense of identity will be helpful as you begin to grow your brand. It will not only ensure that you are true to yourself, but it will also help you find like-minded individuals for whom you can tailor products. It might take some time to build your credibility but once you do you will have a dedicated customer base.
After you have established your brand, it is time to make yourself visible in the community. There are plenty of ways to do this, especially once you have identified your audience. Now, it is time to learn where your buyers hang out. Once you determine the places they frequent, go there and introduce yourself. Hand out complimentary merchandise or discount coupons. It is important that your company name is on everything. Giveaways such as this, where you are physically handing out items, are an excellent way to get people to make an emotional connection with you. Make noise and people will take notice.
Set up shop
Although eCommerce continues to grow, setting up an actual shop is ripe with advantages. It gives you credibility as a retailer. It also provides a place to store your goods and develop relationships with your customers offline. It demonstrates your willingness and desire to be part of your community. If a storefront is out of your price range, putting your products in flea markets, fairs, or other local businesses, is another cost effective way to get your goods to the people.
Being an independent retailer can be scary but you can reduce stress by taking the time to reach out to your community and form relationships. No matter what you are selling, there is always going to be a Wal-Mart around the corner, but if you have the motivation, the merchandise, and a strong local following behind you, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.