The Internet Is Killing Your Business & Other Lies We Tell Ourselves
Updated: Oct 9, 2019
This past week I’ve been working on my latest workshop and speaking key note. It’s designed to make business owners approach things a bit different when it comes to “shop local”. The title of this new session is “The Internet is killing your community – and other lies you tell yourself about business”.
I hear all the time how “my business is in trouble because no one shops local anymore”. My first question is always, what are you doing to make shopping local a priority for them? Let’s take a step back for a minute, why do people buy online or at a big box center? Is it strictly for price? Or is it possibly because it’s just easier? Perhaps it’s because they know what to expect, even when the expectation is just okay.
It’s important that we as business owners take stock of our business. Do you do things that make it easier or harder for your clients to shop with you? Can you imagine going to a restaurant or a store and being told that credit or debit is not an option? Seriously how often do you have cash in your wallet? I do sometimes, but certainly not all the time. You will greatly impact what people can and will spend if they are limited to specifically what is in their wallet right at that moment.
Have you taken a walk through the front doors of your business, rather than the back? Whether you have a brick and mortar store, or homebased, what is the experience when they walk in your doors? Have you put a fresh coat of pain on the walls in the last decade? You might chuckle at this thought, as some people feel as though it’s ok to only refresh every twenty or thirty years. You might also be thinking that that’s okay – I’m here to tell you it’s not! We have short attention spans today, and if in that first five seconds the impression they are left with is nothing but an odor, dated walls & displays or a welcome that is less than welcoming, you will lose them to the internet, the city or to your competitor.
We, as business owners, have an obligation to make the experience easier and welcoming for our clients. We need to create a space that is stimulating to the senses, inviting, a place they would like to spend time and most importantly a consistent experience, no matter who is working.
Have you evolved as time goes on? If you think of the bookstore of years ago, there were literally walls upon walls of books, with book marks and pencils for sale. The small-town bookstores in many cases have all but disappeared. I hear it all the time, “it’s because everyone buys online”. What if we look at differently? Have you ever been inside of an “Indigo or Chapters” bookstore? Shopping there is the epitome of an experience. In addition to books, they have a coffee shop, giftware, candles, journals, and so much more. They have a huge selection to select from. While I can spend a few minutes picking out a book, it’s not uncommon to spend an hour in an Indigo and walk out with more books than the one I went in for, a candle (or three) that were not on my list and a handful of other unexpected treats for myself. The suggested picks really put me over the edge. Just imagine if it had to be cash only, I’m betting I wouldn’t even come home with the book I went in for. When I walk into Indigo, I’m met by aromas of the coffee shop, beautiful lighting & displays and suggested items to buy. Now to think of the local book store, the first image that comes to my mind when I walk through the doors is that the books are original to 1978, the smell of old dusty books immediately hits my senses. The shelving is old, the carpets haven’t seen a shampooer in decades (if ever) and the pages of some of the books have started to yellow. I don’t picture a positive experience when I walk in. What if they freshened their store, diversified their offering and evolved into additional product lines? I’m betting they’d begin attracting a new clientele. Forget about limiting your clients to use only debit not credit. You are limiting their purchasing options for sure.
Is it the fault of clients for shopping online or at the big box stores if we don’t give them a reason to want to shop locally? We as business owners have got to stop waiving the shop local flag and instead take the time to give them the experience that the big guys simply can’t match. The reality is small business holds so many advantages over what the big ones can never conceive of. Consider the small touches, the personal touch that you could infuse into your business.
So now what to do? I encourage you to take a moment and look around your store. If you have a virtual store, then make sure you are checking it out as well. Is everything you are putting out for your clients, stimulating and pleasing to the senses or is it dusty, musty and depressing? Take 10 minutes this week and find one thing you can enhance or promote relating to the experience your clients will have if they choose to do business with you. If you need a second set of eyes, reach out to me and I’ll be happy to give your store front a quick review.
Ultimately the consumer is going to choose to do business somewhere, give them a reason to do business with you. Remember, it is up to us to earn the business of our clients, each and every day, not the other way around! Nobody owes us anything.