You might not think that large online retailers like Amazon are competition. But you might want to think again.
Until recently, the major benefit a storefront had over online was immediate gratification. If you needed or wanted something right away, the only option was to go get it at your nearest store. But now, online retailers are beginning to offer same-day shipping for select markets.
This is sure to disrupt many small local businesses. But here’s the thing; we shouldn’t let it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is not a cry to urge people to buy local. In fact, it’s actually a plea to local small business owners to up your game.
Look all around you. People are out-innovating you.
The sharing economy is putting service businesses out of business because there’s simply no more market for the service. That certainly doesn’t make ride-sharing services like Uber the bad guys. They’re just moving the money you spend on transportation in a new direction.
We need small business now more than ever because online giants can’t replace the foundation of a community. Small business owners build our churches, coach our Little League teams, and support our local charities. But, they can’t do that unless they remain viable, and that means figuring out how to employ the one thing that people will still pay for -- an experience.
Experience is the ultimate expression of how to compete in a search engine-driven world.
And don’t think your industry is immune. Buyers will buy in the way that makes the most sense to them and that includes insurance, legal services, and even consulting. There are few things we buy today that can only be acquired locally.
But there’s one thing a virtual experience can’t deliver, and that’s a hug and a handshake.
There’s a new bakery that opened up near where I live, and the response has been nothing short of phenomenal. On several occasions, I’ve seen lines wrapped around the inside and spilling to the outside. The owners have created an experience that moves people. The food is incredible, the branding is simple and artful, and the vibe simply draws you to come back. I suspect you can find artisanal bread, scones, and crackers online and have them delivered to you by lunch, but you’ll never be moved in a way that simply makes you look forward to returning.
No courier truck can deliver that experience. We need businesses that deliver this kind of experience now more than ever.
If you own a business of any kind, you may have to re-evaluate your priorities. It is no longer simply about your product or location. You must be able to create an experience your customers will love, or else online outlets will put you out of business.