5 Tips for Keeping Holiday Spending Local
Meet Pam Hausner, co-founder of the Business Alliance for a Sustainable Economy - Kansas City (aka BASE KC). BASE KC is a community of local businesses and individuals that work together to create a better world. Below she offers five solid tips to keep holiday spending local.
Even while corporate chains and online giants work to grab an even larger share of holiday spending, there is evidence that suggests healthy change is afoot. Earlier this year, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance published a survey (pdf) of more than 3,000 independent business owners that reports revenue growth of 8.1 percent on average. We’ll talk a little bit more about this survey in a minute.
For now, you can be encouraged that people are recognizing the long-term benefits of building vibrant communities through local shopping. Holiday shopping can be a personal, community-oriented and fun experience. Here are a few ideas to help you increase sales and improve the rate of repeat customers.
You have something no online store can offer: a human face. Make sure your customers are getting the best experience possible. What can you do to make their experience easier? More convenient? Uplifting?
Train your staff to interact with the customers, ready to explain the value and span of services you offer. Emphasize the ease of exchanges or returns to provide a powerful incentive to buy from you.
Bundle products or services or provide value-added services with purchases
Incentives like these can turn first purchases into additional ones. When you can explain the difference of your business in terms that are real and exciting to a customer, your product or service is less likely to be viewed as a mere commodity.
Develop cooperative partnerships with other nearby businesses to “bundle” products and/or services
This approach helps you create something unique and convenient. For example, a spa can partner with a nearby restaurant for a “winter escape” package. Mutually beneficial partnerships help distinguish you and build stronger communities.
Educate staff and customers
Train your staff to be salespeople, not just clerks. Enable them to give a potential customer new insight or knowledge, especially information that can’t be easily researched online. In addition, educate customers to the importance of doing business locally.
Back to that survey
Remember that survey showing increased revenue growth for local businesses? The survey also showed that communities with grassroots business alliances like BASE KC (an organization serving local, independent businesses) enjoy an average revenue increase of 9.3 percent, compared to 4.9 percent growth among independents in communities without such alliances.
Whatever you choose to do, include your staff and make a plan. Your staff’s customer experiences can help you develop your strategy and involving them will help them invest in the plan’s success. Holiday shopping provides a great opportunity for ongoing customer relationships as we prove the real benefits of buying locally.