During the recent recession, small businesses emerged as the unlikely employment heroes. From mid-2009 to 2011, small firms accounted for 67 percent of the net new jobs created, according to the Small Business Administration [PDF]. But jobs aren’t the only reason the little guys are gaining ground.
As big-box retailers struggle to compete with e-commerce giants, there seems to be a gradual shift toward buying local. This owes in part to the fact that consumers think small-business owners are more ethical and trustworthy than CEOs at large corporations, a study by the Public Affairs Council shows. They prefer to shop at mom-and-pop shops, even if it means paying more.
Here are a few other reasons consumers shop locally:
- Originality — Many of the commodity items sold by big-box stores can be purchased online, but locally owned businesses often sell unique products and services that can’t be found elsewhere. When you offer something that shoppers can’t buy from anyone else, your business isn’t in danger of being replaced by an online site or nearby superstore that undercuts your prices.
- Service — Customers cite quality service as a top reason for shopping locally. Shopkeepers and sales clerks provide something big-box retailers and online sites often can’t — a personal touch. For small-business owners, this emphasizes the importance of providing outstanding customer service to each individual who walks through your door.
- Community — When customers shop locally, significantly more of their money gets reinvested in the community than when they buy from a national company. That money may ultimately create additional jobs, further strengthening the local economy.
- Convenience – While customers continue to search for convenience, small businesses will always offer that unique experience that has been a part of communities for centuries. Local shops and service providers should keep in mind customers choose them for a personalized shopping experience. Even small touches like remembering a customer’s name or special-ordering a requested product can make a big difference. Also, using a mobile payment processing system like GoPayment lets you get out from behind the counter and interact directly with customers, something that’s impossible at big box stores.