While independent retailers have fallen victim to market forces, taxing distributor demands, and pressure from big box and online retailers in the past, today’s savvier store owners are taking advantage of new technologies to both masquerade as their larger counterparts (operationally), and innovate in those areas where they can simply outdo them (customer experience, personalization, and general business turnaround times). And somewhere in between, they’re strategically riding the coat tails of larger retailers who have done all the heavy lifting, so they don’t have to.
Thriving in spite of competition and other marketplace stimuli requires embracing your key differentiators. Two qualities that relatively smaller businesses (in any market) should enjoy are their ability to be nimble and a willingness (and subsequent ability) to change as is necessary. Relying on these core abilities requires easy access to all of the information and content that makes the business run. That’s where the introduction of a fitting and sturdy content management system (CMS) comes into play, as it should be the backbone of every independent retailer’s operation.
Following are a few of the steps that will help preserve your key differentiators in a constantly changing and often unpredictable marketplace:
- Make a wise CMS decision based on your unique needs and offerings. Knowing that your content management system will lie central to all of your operation’s moving parts, deciding what you need it to do requires knowing each of those parts upfront. In mapping them out, consider things like production centers, warehousing, store locations, distributors, vendors, ecommerce, personnel, etc. This content map will not only allow you to identify the features that will make adding and managing content to the system easy, fast, and repeatable, but also will allow you to pinpoint the different ways you’ll need to access that information for consumption, and the population of external selling channels.
- Use the Web in your store to sell beyond what’s on the rack. While you have the customer on premises, and know exactly what they’re looking for, don’t be limited by what you have in your store; guide them through your ecommerce site to order the products they want, so they don’t leave and buy them elsewhere.
- Beat the big guys to mobile. While larger retailers are wading though multiple layers of red tape to decide on a mobile strategy, introduce apps and mobile sites that offer your customers new ways to explore, access, buy, recommend, and otherwise share your content and products. And in the process, rapidly increase the loyal social circles surrounding your brand.
- Outserve customers on your own site, making it more desirable for them to shop with you directly. In other words, cut out the middleman. By offering shoppers an honest, straightforward, and easy online experience, you make it more desirable for customers to shop with you directly. Doing this requires applying thoughtful features that add convenience to their browsing, researching, shipping, and purchasing experience.
Make the introduction of a solid CMS a priority, as you establish yourself as an industry leader. It will become the foundation of your operation, as well as a tool that allows you to grow (and grow with) your business, no matter what external forces are at play in your industry. From there, extend your brand’s presence far and wide, diversify your communication and sales channels, and cater to your customers.
Crown Partners CEO Richard Hearn’s career trajectory captures his commitment to redefining the way companies do business. Hearn launched and built Crown Partners on the idea that technology and marketing can work together to create transformational solutions. In the ten years since he co-founded Crown Partners, Hearn has led the company to success year after year with its commitment to creating rapid, transformative growth for clients through digital eBusiness solutions.