New Business Re-Invents the Traditional Brick & Mortar Retail Shop

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Moving further into the information age, the appeal of the traditional brick & mortar establishment is on the decline. As businesses struggle to make the leap into the e-commerce ring, retailers like Disaster Relief Supply are leading the charge in mixed market sales.

Attitude is just as big a part of being a Nation-wide retailer as anything else

The retail market is evolving into a consumer’s paradise. With a cold, calculated, click of a mouse, the hardest to find products can be made to appear at astronomically low prices. The internet has changed the face of sales and there is no turning back. Local brick & mortar retailers are quickly becoming ancient relics as they lose out to e-commerce powerhouses like Amazon and Wal-Mart. Despite the difficulties many business owners are facing, some are successfully adapting to the changing landscape. New software and innovative business structures are making it possible to integrate a locally owned retail shop into a national provider of goods through both physical and non-physical markets. Mike Fisher of Disaster Relief Supply, a family-owned retailer dealing in emergency preparedness supplies, shares strategies on mixed market sales.

-Advertising-

Advertising dollars can go quick for a small business with a limited budget. Every small business owner is constantly reminded of the multitudes of advertising possibilities. Print, radio, internet, mailings, sponsorships, door-to-door, the list goes on and on. With both local and online markets at stake, it’s hard to know how to invest. Fisher recommends an altered approach to traditional methods.

Trial and error is fundamentally important in a new market. Start off small and find what works, then concentrate on those methods to reach customers and convert sales. The internet offers almost countless advertising opportunities. Keep in mind that methods that drive in high traffic, may not convert as many sales as a more targeted approach. Overall advertising online can add up if not monitored closely, especially pay-per-click or pay-per-impression campaigns. However, there are some inexpensive or free outlets that are worth looking into.

1.    Social Media – Sites like Facebook and Twitter provide valuable exposure. The high page ranking of popular social media sites puts the company name far up on the search engine list. Remember to keep a business facebook or twitter page up-to-date, and stocked full of company updates, coupons, promotions, and main website links.
2.    Targeted Marketing on Blogs, Forums, and Websites – Millions of internet users frequent blogs, forums, and home-made websites. Many of these webpages reach a niche market (i.e. DIY home repair, guns & ammo, cooking, electronics, etc.) and present an opportunity to sell products to consumers who may already be in the market for them.
3.    Mailing Lists – Either start one from scratch, or purchase a list from a reputable source. Use lists to reach more customers, and remind them of deals, discounts, coupons, and more.
4.    Free Press Release Distribution – Sites like PRLOG.org present opportunities to distribute business updates on a regular basis. Fisher notes to pack Press Releases full of keywords and information that describes the business, without making it sound too much like an advertisement.

-POS Systems-

Point of sale systems are typically integrated on a stand-alone computer which can be linked in with external software for record keeping. This setup works for local only sales, but non-physical sales require a different system that must also be accounted for. Disaster Relief Supply has cut through the red tape and has put the POS system and the accounting system on one PC. Using an external USB barcode scanner, QuickBooks, and transaction software that allows transfers from the online store to QuickBooks, Disaster Relief Supply monitors and manages all sales and accounting efficiently on one computer. This cuts a two or three person job down to one, and allows a small business to operate more effectively than ever before.

-Keeping a National Business Attitude-

Nation-wide competitive pricing is the new hot fad. Even brick and mortar establishments are falling victim to barcode scanning apps and mobile search engines. Make sure that prices remain competitive both in-store and online, this elicits credibility and honesty as compared to major retailers that mark-up prices in-store. But prices are not all that needs to be given a national makeover.

Attitude is just as big a part of being a Nation-wide retailer as anything else. Online customers expect a large corporate office with dozens of employees working round-the-clock. This expectation offers a position of power that can be used to gain trustworthiness. This doesn’t mean the customer should be treated with less respect, if anything this presents an opportunity to gain repeat business by showcasing excellent customer service.

As businesses scramble for online relevance, the little guy tends to be left behind. The worst thing a small business can do is to become complacent and resist evolution. E-commerce shouldn’t be feared, but instead should be embraced. Use these strategies from Disaster Relief Supply to transform a local retailer into a nation-wide presence.

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Rick Fisher
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