Why Now Has Never Been A Better Time To Be An Independent Retailer By Gaynor Humphrey

There has never been a better time to be an independent retailer. The pandemic has sent a sizable shock through the retail market place and it is the independent sector which has benefitted. During the pandemic consumers have understood the value of local shops and combined with the reluctance to go in to big cities or shopping centres they have made a conscious decision to shop local. Almost 60% of consumers increased their spend with local shops in 2020 and this trend is set to continue.

So how can independent retailers capitalise on this resurgent interest in independent retailers? Gaynor Humphrey of independent retailer Best Years Ltd, believes the combination of local shoppers and new technology means that opportunities to grow your business have never been more.

  1. Engage with your local community. As communities engage and support each other there is now a huge opportunity to advertise your shop to local customers
    Social media is a quick and easy way to create a fanbase of local shoppers, as are websites such as www.nextdoor.co.uk
    Using these websites means that you can easily connect with local consumers. No need to spend time and money on a website and SEO when you can join local Facebook groups, all you need is good photography and the ability to answer queries in a timely manner.

Gaining a local audience on social media means that you can offer Click and Collect or even delivery if they are local enough (or the order big enough!)
The best thing about talking to local people on social media is that these are potentially loyal local customers who will tell other local customers about you. A more traditional and reliable version on online reviews!

  1. One of the biggest changes in the last year is the absence of trade shows. Traditionally the best way to source new products for your shop the lack of trade shows has created a vacuum which has been filled by B2B online platforms offering a curated collection of wholesale products.
    What makes these platforms so advantageous for independent retailers is not just that they showcase products from wholesalers which don’t normally get the limelight but that because they are in a landgrab to get retailers and wholesalers signed up they offer retailers financial incentives and extended payment terms to buy.
    Hello Abound is offering retailers £150 off if they sign in using a link from a wholesaler on their platform and Creoate also offer discounts.
    In order to benefit from these discounts have a look at the websites and then approach any wholesalers you like and ask if they have a discount code. Do NOT sign up to these platforms without the discount code or you may miss the opportunity to get a discount.
  1. Selling direct to consumers via your own website has always been a frustrating combination of huge potential and low website traffic. Trying to understand SEO is difficult enough without actually having to do it for your website. However you can increase the visibility of your website by listing your shop on a platform such as Trouva or  Down Your High Street.Their one job is to generate traffic to their websites and they have the teams and budgets to do so. You can list your shop and products from your shop on their platform and benefit from their considerable website traffic.
  1. The other major opportunity to increase your sales is via marketplaces such as Etsy and Not On the High Street.
    Again they generate significant website traffic which offers you the opportunity to sell in volume, but they do not allow mass produced products to be sold on their platforms. Etsy specialises in handmade products and NOTHS need products which are not available outside of their platform. There are several ways that you can access the opportunities these platforms offer. You could make up hampers or gift bundles, or you can personalise products you stock or if you are truly talented you can make products yourself.
  1. Now is a good time to reach out to your local press. They are always looking for local story and if you have a good news local story in these troubled times then it is likely to be of interest to your local press. If you are working with a local charity or if you are helping people through these tough times then make sure your local newspaper knows about it. You can also contact your local BBC radio station. Make sure that your story is both local and relevant, so Local Business Saves Valentines Day or Easter Egg Hunt Suggestions from Local Business. Don’t worry if they don’t pick up on your story straight away, just keep sending over ideas for stories.

While multiple retailers try to cope with the massive changes COVID has brought this is the year that Independent retailers can capitalise on their agility, and personality to grow their businesses 

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