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Big Box Challenge: How Small Business Can Compete

  • Small businesses have found ways to endure despite big box stores’ edge on pricing and selection
  • Offering a better experience and good service are essential steps in remaining competitive
  • A strong online presence has become more of a necessity as well

When big box stores and shopping malls first debuted, they were the bane of small business owners. By offering a larger selection and lower prices, these mammoth entities undercut mom-and-pop stores and forced innumerable businesses to close their doors.

Yet small businesses continue to endure, even as e-commerce giants like Amazon force malls and big box stores to face their own reckoning. Here are some ways you can stay competitive:

Emphasize service and experience

Many customers continue to patronize small businesses because they offer a better experience than larger competitors. Strategies have included events, interactive displays, product samples, and unique or high-quality items.

Small businesses also offer the opportunity for more intimate, one-on-one interactions with customers where you can share your knowledge or help them find a product or service that best suits their needs. When you hire employees, look for candidates who can offer these qualities and help uphold the reputation of your business. This allows you to build strong connections with both the community and your customers.

Focus on a niche

Big box stores typically have a wide selection of items, but few choices when it comes to individual categories. By selecting a few niche markets where you can focus your efforts, you can become a trusted source for your target audiences.

Have a strong online presence

Shoppers today often research products online before selecting what they would like to purchase. This trend makes it essential that your business have a well-developed website as well as a good social media presence. Consider offering an e-commerce platform as well; this tool opens up a new revenue source and allows a stronger connection to your customer base.

Consider setting up shop next to a big box competitor

Big box stores are frequently located in shopping plazas or other venues that balance large retailers with smaller storefronts. The National Federation of Independent Businesses says leasing one of these spaces allows you to capitalize on the ample parking and strong foot traffic at big box stores while still retaining a competitive edge.

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