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4 Ways Small Retailers Can Compete Online With The Big Boys

4 Ways Small Retailers Can Compete Online With The Big Boys

Small and medium stores have been struggling to catch up with the changes in retail. The spread of the big-box chains and the chipping away of market share by online retailers have changed the retail landscape. In recent years, the technology changes have been working against the smaller stores. Big-box retailers were able to develop technology and infrastructure with dedicated teams.

Employing an army of engineers and data scientists is beyond the reach of most retailers except for a few big ones. But the ongoing changes and the emergence of many new companies in the area make connected commerce and omnichannel retail withing the reach for every retail store. Taking advantage of these new technologies will be critical to the success of every store. The good news is that everyone is in the game now, not just the big boys.

Let us check a few ways you can harness the power of omnichannel and connected commerce to insure the success of your store.

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1. Get your inventory online

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    A major factor working against smaller stores is consumers being concerned about inventory availability. Whilst consumers know that the item they are looking for is possibly available in a nearby store, they may avoid taking chances and drive further to a bigger store where they are sure that the item will be there. This uncertainty factor offsets the proximity advantage stores have over the customers in the neighborhood.

    Having the inventory online and searchable via mobile and desktop removes this uncertainty. An informed customer will be willing to drive to the smaller store nearby rather than to the supermarket many miles away. Now the store may get online visibility through paid results in Google shopping or by subscribing to Mantele. Making your inventory visible might be the best marketing step for your store.

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    2. Focus on Online visibility than on physical location

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      Traditionally, it is important to have a physical store which attracts eye-balls. Recently, the importance of the store’s physical location has been replaced by its online presence. Even if you are in a location without a lot of foot traffic, customers will find you online.

      Search engine ranking and social media presence will be way cheaper than leasing prime space for your store. You may be able to reduce rental costs significantly and get more consumers by diverting a fraction of your rent to online marketing.

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      3. Provide a seamless shopping experience

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        Selling online remains hard and time-consuming for smaller stores. Consumers who buy online mostly will stick to larger retailers like Amazon due to habits and trust. Attracting local consumers online and providing them a seamless experience for buying in-store is the key to leveraging your physical proximity. Not only should the customers be able to find your items online, they should also be able to locate the item in your store, and buy it in an effortless manner.

        Home Depot and Target showing in-store maps to the item are good examples of such experiences. Increasingly, these technologies are available to smaller stores. Many start-ups like Curbside, Mantele and Google shopping avail the same technology to smaller stores which is only available for big-box retailers now.

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        4. Use discounts judiciously

        A marketing channel for easy local visibility for stores now are daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social. Retailers can reach out to local customers through these daily deal sites with no marketing effort.

        But these coupons are often expensive to business, with stores losing a major part of their revenue. With the advent of local search, customer visibility can be achieved by being present in inventory searches described above. More importantly, these marketing channels are more persistent unlike the short term discounted promotions.

        The advent of retail technology has provided options for local stores to succeed more than any other time in the recent past. If you are ready to adapt and embrace this change you will see increasing customer numbers and revenues.

        Featured photo credit: www.horizon-retailers.com via horizon-retailers.com

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        Last Updated on April 9, 2020

        5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

        5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

        It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

        The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

        With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

        5 Types of Leadership Styles

        I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

        The Democratic Style

        The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

        The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

          The Autocratic Style

          The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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          The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

          While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

            The Transformational Style

            Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

            Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

            Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

              The Transactional Style

              Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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              The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

              The Laissez-Faire Style

              The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

              In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

              Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

              You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

              Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

              The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

              Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

              I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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              In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

              What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

              Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

              1. Context Matters

              Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

              2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

              When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

              As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

              “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

              The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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              As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

              When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

              The Way Forward

              To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

              As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

              “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

              The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

              If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

              Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

              Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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