Saturday, May 7, 2011

Built-in Advantages

Some businesses have built-in advantages.

The big box chain stores have the advantage of Price through buying power and a bully position to demand and extract better pricing out of their suppliers. Some have the advantage of Convenience, too. Great locations and one-stop shopping.

The Internet sites have the advantage of Convenience. Shopping in your pajamas from the comfort of your own home. Some have the advantage of Price through low overhead. Warehouse space is cheaper to build than retail space.

And those two channels are fighting big time for customers who value price and/or convenience.

Independent Retailers rarely have either of those advantages. We work on tighter margins to stay price competitive. We pay higher rents to try to be convenient. And although good to have those things, the one area where we do have the built-in advantage is Experience.

To be successful, we have to out-Experience the competition.

We can offer not just good customer service, but outstanding, bend-over-backwards customer service, the kind that gives people something to talk about.


  • Have a problem? We'll fix it.

  • Have a special need? We'll take care of it.

  • Have a desire? We'll fill it.
We can know more about the products than even the most savvy Internet researcher. And it isn't just important to have knowledge. We can know how to apply it.



  • Let me tell you why the folding mechanism on that stroller is better for you.

  • Did you know that this game teaches skills that will raise your child's math scores?

  • The manufacturer recommends this age because younger children don't have the hand-eye coordination to be successful.
We can WOW our customers every time they step through the door.


  • Yes, I'd be happy to carry that out for you.

  • I'd like to give you this free gift as a token for shopping with us today.

  • Of course we deliver.
If your store isn't built around the concept of Experience, you're missing out on the one built-in advantage you have that your big-box and Internet competitors don't. And if you aren't actively working every day to improve your Experience, you're not only hurting yourself, but every other indie retailer in your town because you're teaching customers that Experience isn't that important.

It is. You can do it. So make it so.

-Phil

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