As UK consumers prepare for the Christmas shopping season, small-to medium enterprises (SMEs) know the importance of getting customers into their stores and onto their websites. A bumper Xmas can make the difference between a happy holidays for business owners or a terrible start to the New Year. However, SMEs often find themselves squeezed out of the market by their larger competitors, who have invested to make their physical stores better. On top, they’re also losing out as a result of how their larger peers present themselves online.
Our research found that 71% of British consumers prefer shopping with SMEs if doing so in person, thanks to a personalised service. As a result, customers feel more loyal to these smaller brands. However, when it comes to shopping online, 59% of consumers agreed that larger retailers offer a better service than their smaller counterparts, rising to 78% among 18-24 year olds. With Christmas shoppers causing chaos in the streets, many consumers choose to make their purchases online from the comfort of their own home, stacking the odds still further against small businesses.
So what can SMEs do to gain a competitive edge in this busy shopping period? Perhaps it’s time for small business owners to take a second look at their online outlet, and set out to make the shopping experience better for their customers. If personalised service in the brick-and-mortar store is what keeps customers coming back, then this needs to be adapted to its website.
This can be done in a number of ways. For example, SMEs can implement time sensitive offers, choose to attract customers within a certain distance of the business, or create a specific promotions for those visiting the website for the very first time.
By creating a cohesive shopping experience both on the web and on the High Street, SMEs could double the number of visitors who return to their business. They can also reduce the trust and empathy shortfall between their online and offline services. This would make customers feel that they’re getting nothing but the very best from their favourite retailer and help the SME to compete with their larger competitors.