Folks, brick and mortar retail — and especially “big box” — is dying. Cities and towns are putting the brakes on new big box developments, and even developers are pausing. This doesn’t mean Target is going out of business, but you can bet that consumers are finding new personalized options for their purchases. The death of big box and brick and mortar creates an incredible opportunity for small business and online business. Direct selling is the fastest mover and will be over the next decade. Brand equity will be more critical than ever.
Retail is changing
About five years ago, driving on a long stretch of highway between Phoenix and Las Vegas, I saw a massive big-box retail shopping center being built. I said, “Wow, I can’t believe they’re building that. The place will be a massive paintball center or trade school in ten years.” I have five years left on my prediction, and I am betting the under. It’s no secret that retail is moving online and becoming more personalized and local.
According to Julianne Slovak, contributor at Forbes, even the chains are following suit: Why Big-Box Retailers Target And Kohl’s Are Going Small.
Small business is quick and nimble
This shift in consumer behavior to online and local is a blessing for the “Mom and Pop” or specialty store in your town. The small business retailer or service provider will make a killing during this evolution, and the most successful will be those who embrace the online market and invest in digital branding.
Consumers want personalization
This means that small retailers can create a unique buying experience, both in person and online. The store down the street can give us something we can’t find in a Fry’s Marketplace. They give us the genuine handshake or hug. They know my name. They’re interested in my experience — they’re interested in me. Even online, we can connect personalized emails, maybe a video of the family that runs the store. These are the difference makers. It’s safe to say, going directly to market can cut out the big box altogether, saving the customer money and effort.
The small business owner can and will flourish because they can create a brand experience that is genuine and personal.
Every small business should consider three things:
- Find our niche: What is our unique value proposition? Write four or five key reasons people choose our business. Then ask a friend. (Write down those results as well.)
- Find who LOVES our business, with a capital L. These are our advocates – ask them why they love our company. Write it down.
- Evaluate how we are sharing this story with the world. Social, traditional media.
This is BRAND IDENTITY, the story that’s essential for our customer to know. We need to understand how our business makes them feel and whether it solves their problem. More importantly, did we create an experience?
Tell your story, and if you want help building your brand identity and digital footprint, connect with us online. We’re here to help!
Mark Stewart, Founder, Concept2Completion – Modern Branding for the Digital Age