If you're like many small businesses, the influx of new or expanding department stores in your area as well as their growth on-line can cause some anxiety. Their buying power may be greater than yours and their pockets for marketing may be deeper. In order to compete, consider the following questions:
1. Are you providing a service to a niche market not found in even upscale department stores?
2. Are you appealing to tourists and to Internet customers that mall department stores may be missing?
3. Are you making your customers feel more rewarded than a department store chain?
To compete against major department stores, identify and appeal to a niche marketYou can provide services and items the large department store chains cannot by knowing which services and items might appeal more. Also, customers may be willing to spend more money if they know their purchases are of a quality or type they can't find at the department store chains.
U.S. Small Business Administration offers many resources, including links that can help you find a mentor.
Appeal to tourists and on-line customers who may want to avoid mall department store outletsTourists can shop just as easily in a department store as a boutique. If you live in an area with tourism, take advantage of the influx of tourists by knowing when events are going to take place and then by offering your out-of-town guests a quality on-line shopping site when they are no longer in your area.
Make customers feel rewarded; a personal touch is something a department store chain can't provideMany business owners wonder how they can compete with the noise, bustle and excitement of mall department stores. As every child who leaves the dentist or doctor's office with a trinket knows, life is more fun with rewards. Consider rewarding your customers and their patronage with loyalty cards and promotional items.
- Get to know your competition by keeping a list of department stores that compete against you. Check their websites often to keep abreast of changes they are making.
- Read arts council, chamber of commerce and other local development and publicity publications and online sites to plan for upcoming community events.
- Support community philanthropic and educational events to generate good will.