5 Ways Small Businesses Can Compete With Big-Box Stores

Date: February 15, 2017

Stand out from the crowd. Here's how your small business can attract customers and compete with larger retailers.

Giant retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart may seem unbeatable—but your business can still thrive. Michael Hicks, a professor at Ball State University and author of The Local Economic Impact of Wal-Mart, offers five tips to attract customers.

1. Go niche
Big-box retailers offer a handful of options in each narrow category—say, men’s T-shirts or kids’ bikes. Rather than carrying a shallow selection of everything, go deep on a few categories to attract discerning shoppers.

RELATED: 4 Ways to Create a Personalized Customer Service Experience

2. Take the high (quality) road
Go head-to-head with giant retailers on price, and you’ll lose. Instead, offer customers the high-quality goods they won’t find on Wal-Mart’s shelves.

3. Stress service
“The biggest place that makes a difference for small businesses is customer service: having easily accessible, well-lit changing rooms and sales staff that are knowledgeable about product features and styles,” Hicks says.

4. Dabble in delivery
Can’t afford to carry an item in every color or size? Have a range of size choices in-store, and then make it easy for customers to order what they want. “Merging brick-and-mortar with e-commerce is ahead of the game,” Hicks says.

5. Complement to complete
Locating your business within the retail cluster that pops up around megastores can be a boon—especially if you offer products or services not offered at a big-box store. You’ll benefit from proximity to plentiful parking and easy access for customers.



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