Shop Local – certainly, you’ve seen it plastered on shops in your area or you’ve paid homage to your favorite boutique on Small Business Saturday, but this movement has experienced a renewed energy in the post-pandemic world. Shop Local has become a rallying cry for consumers to invest in their community and prioritize local businesses that were often hit hardest by reduced business hours and shutdowns. While this guiding principle is well-intentioned, it also comes with the new expectations consumers have after exiting 18-months of constant on-demand streaming, 2-day delivery, and a virtual option for just about any meeting, workshop, or event. Below we breakdown how local businesses can transform with technology and future-proof for the new consumer.
“Test and Learn” approach for technology enablement partners
From fulfillment solutions to customer service chatbots, there are integrations that can make the purchase journey more seamless for both the customer and the business. Our recommendation is to take a “Test and Learn” approach to working with new partners in order to find the best fit for your business. While some third-parties come with a steep price tag, there could be opportunity for your business to scale up and establish new customer relationships as a result of a partnership that is built for growth.
Additionally, there may be resources, grants, or discounts available to your business. Amazon recently launched a new initiative for Black-owned businesses that helps entrepreneurs unlock benefits to selling and advertising on the platform.
Create experiences for customers during 1-on-1 or in-person interactions
With an increasing number of customer interactions taking place online, it is more important than ever to find points of human connection both digitally and in-person. Every customer-facing moment should be viewed as an opportunity to engage and retain. Utilizing multiple channels to communicate is a thoughtful strategy to provide answers and meet your customers where they are. Consider the following:
Set up auto responses on digital channels (including social and email) and provide customers with a realistic timeline on when they can anticipate receiving a reply from your business.
Link to an FAQ landing page in your auto response so customers have access to all of the information up front.
Make a connection in-person or over the phone with customers. If there is not an immediate problem that needs resolution, encourage customer service reps to learn more about the customer, including how they found or became interested in your products or services.
Find balance in your media
The pandemic brought on new behaviors that irreversibly changed the way that we consume media. Local businesses can adapt to make the most of their investment.
Adjust to consumption trends and emerging channels. If you didn’t think your business was ready for collaboration with a creator or influencer before, now would be the time to dig deeper and identify a partnership. Like finding a technology partner, use a “Test and Learn” approach to strike a balance with your media mix.
Hyperlocalize your media from both a creative and targeting perspective. Our neighborhoods and surrounding communities were our only outlets of escape over the past year and a half and this bond will continue to impact our decision-making process. By utilizing hyperlocal creative, you are creating ties with the community and developing an extension to your customer experience.
From a targeting and optimization standpoint, a hyperlocal campaign works for both local businesses and national chains. A 2021 WARC article, “How national chains can significantly improve ad performance through hyperlocal campaign optimizations,” found that focusing on local communities could deliver more efficient CPMs and even lower the cost of acquisition. Local businesses are in a unique position to take advantage of this.
Continuing the digital transformation that was accelerated by the pandemic will be crucial for all businesses, especially those that are local, and it will bring opportunities to scale up, find new customers, and become a pillar in their communities.