What Can Independent Retailers Learn From The Retail Giants?

Last post: Oct 3, 2014

Our quick guide to what the small retailers can learn from the big guys.

Independent retailers can often feel like they exist in an entirely different world to their larger competitors. Those multinational goliaths operate at levels of investment, turnover, and stock above and beyond anything that an independent operator could dream of, and benefit from the economies of scale that inevitably follow.

There are of course many things which form core facets of the operation of these retail giants which independent stores and businesses simply cannot do, but there are also a number of things that the smaller enterprise can learn from the big boys. These retail giants are generally so big and successful for a reason and there are a number of things which independent retailers can copy or adapt to improve their own operation.

Store layouts

You may be surprised at just how much time and effort goes into the research and implementation of the store layouts of the biggest retailers. Their floor-plans are studiously planned to ensure that they encourage customers to both buy more and to buy the things that the retailer wants them to.

You may not be able to directly access this research, but what you can do is analyse and understand what the retail giants do with their layouts and adapt your own store accordingly. This is likely to include things like changing the ordering of your product sections and including more point of sale displays and promotions.

Loyalty schemes

This is a classic area where independent retailers often mistakenly think that the biggest companies have a monopoly. It is true that a small enterprise can't offer the same magnitude of loyalty scheme that one of the retail giants can, but you may be surprised at just how popular a more modest scheme could be.

Customers of smaller retailers often enjoy the feeling of supporting a local business as well as feeling that they get a better quality of product and service. If you then add a small loyalty scheme to the equation too, customer satisfaction could go through the roof. Use elements of what has been successful for your larger competitors to create the perfect rewards for your customers.

Online shopping and delivery

This is a tough area for independent retailers as it is one where the big stores have a massive advantage due to their economies of scale. That doesn't mean however, that a small or medium enterprise should write off the idea of online shopping and delivery entirely.

If you do implement online shopping and delivery options, you need to remember that you're not trying to directly rival the retail giants' service. Instead you simply wish to offer a good service to your customers that is cost-effective for you. The major considerations then, need to be minimum spends required for delivery and maximum distances for delivery.

Getting and implementing customer feedback

It is simply ridiculous that large multinational companies should do better than independent retailers when it comes to collecting and acting upon customer feedback, but that often is the case.

This is an area that independent retailers should be able to learn from and then overtake the big boys thanks to the closer relationship that they can have with customers and the greater ease with which they can implement changes. To really excel in this regard, you need to offer customers a variety of platforms by which to offer their feedback and then implement suggestions regularly to show that you do indeed listen to your patrons.