Don't write the little guys off yet.
While massive web giants like Amazon and Zappos wield weapons like free shipping, stellar return policies, and low prices, small boutiques are embracing the web and thriving, the New York Times reports.
Among high-end retailers, local boutiques have been exploiting their small sizes and smaller customer bases to find success in the market. Here are a few tricks they say they're using:
- Personal touches: Owner Pamela Baker-Miller, of Portland, Oregon's Frances May, tells the Times that all her online purchasers get a hand-written thank you note with their carefully wrapped package. “We’ve cultivated a great group of loyal customers,” she said to the New York Times. “We give thorough answers. We know what they like and what size they wear.”
- Careful curation: “We like to think our editorial decisions are unique for our audience,” Joe Cole, owner of Tenoversix in West Hollywood, California, told the Times. “Larger stores may carry a much wider range, but we’re more focused. We find new and unexpected things you can’t carry everywhere.”
- Social media outreach: “It’s how to communicate with customers in a new way, being where customers spend their time, and how to present the stores in those environments,” said Jennifer Mankins, owner of Brooklyn-based Bird boutiques, to the Times. “Pinterest is so visually driven, it’s almost like another storefront for the store. I can put all the things I’m inspired by on it.”