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Competition: Brick & Mortar v. Online Shopping

As the owner or operator of a physical location—a brick & mortar, you get the cred: you’re working hard to hold up a crucial sector of the economy. It may also feel like you’re fighting the forces of change, specifically online sales that woo customers with their promise of convenience, and above all, unbeatably low prices. So what’s a brick & mortar to do? How best to compete with all that online power? There is a range of tools that small businesses can take, from making sure you have the best credit card processing for small business, to make sure you’re loud and proud about being a small business. Most importantly, you want to be your unique self.


One of the limitations of having a physical location—that you don’t have the endless reach of the internet—can also be one of your biggest benefits. Your shop is local. This means that you get to better participate in the lives of the people that you serve. People are beginning to recognize the social, cultural, and even economic benefits of shopping locally, and your store is a part of that story.


In some ways, local shopping can be convenient in a way that online shopping can’t. It’s the only way to see and feel a product before you buy it. It may be more convenient to click a button and have an item delivered, but when you factor in returning items you aren’t satisfied with and buying a replacement, it can be more frustrating when compared to going to a store and knowing what you’re getting.


Another aspect of shopping that can be either positive or negative is the people. Not having to deal with shop clerks may be one reason that people are driven online in the first place. On the other hand, though, if your helpful, well-trained staff are giving their all, customers will be happy to make the trek to your store because of the treatment they get.


Stores can benefit their customers by offering flexible payment options. From cash to Apple Pay, the store that offers the best credit card processing for small business will benefit their customers with convenience. If you do have an online store, offering flexible shopping methods like in-store pickup may be a great way to add flexibility, too.


One last point: it has never been easier to start selling your products online. Don’t feel like you need to compete with Amazon pricing to sell online, either. Selling across multiple channels is increasingly the way shops stay relevant and reach as many customers as possible. It’s important to use inventory management software to keep track of these channels, to make sure you don’t miss a beat or an opportunity.

Small businesses are by no means becoming irrelevant because of Amazon and other online tech giants. If your store is able to stay what it is, while also benefitting from technology that is making it easy for small businesses to run efficiently, you’ll be filling a need, and competing on your terms.