I heard a quote on the news recently that only hairdressers and coffee shops will survive the rise in online shopping. I thought that was very sad to hear although I would be one of the main culprits in this happening. I prefer to shop online, I’m very much an online person. Not liking crowds and not having the female shopping gene it has been my saviour a lot of the time. Possibly there are many people the same as me.
This got me thinking how it can really affect towns and communities and what they can possibly do about this eventuality. Local shops are closing because of online shopping – this is an obvious fact. My mother owned a boutique card shop in the 1970’s and 80’s. It went out of business mainly because of chain card shops appearing in the town.
Then the chains started closing down when the town’s bypass was built because people no longer drove through the town or used it as a stop off point enroute to their destination. The chain shops have been followed by online shopping as the ultimate shut down for the local shops. For example I have used Moonpig.com for a quite a few years now – and by the way my mother loves the cards I send.
Online shopping is like a town’s new bypass for local shops
Recently there was the RTE programme about the economic regeneration of Drogheda called Local Heroes. The programme featured many community initiatives to boost the retail sector in the town.
Fiona Ashe, a social business consultant, says that it’s essential for local shop owners to include online marketing in their growth strategy. “Businesses which focus only on offline sales and marketing are missing out on a huge number of potential consumers. Search functions within Twitter and LinkedIn, for example, allow business owners to connect with people in their local area. Also, the level of engagement through mobile devices is increasing, so a mobile app is a very valuable tool for businesses. For any shop owners who haven’t engaged with online yet, I encourage you to take that leap now!”
If local shops don’t have the footfall any more to keep their business afloat perhaps they should consider selling online as well as staying local with their physical shop – that way they have both bases covered. Presuming they can do this of course – hairdressers and coffee shops (and similar) can’t.
# 1. Setting up
It isn’t difficult to set up a website these days and this can be your online shop.
- Ecommerce sites allow your potential website visitor to buy your stock simply online.
- You can connect up to Paypal, Realex, WebMoney, Moneybookers, Worldpay plus lots more payment service providers who supply an easy payment system. Of course there are costs involved in doing this but surely it’s better to spend a bit to gain more rather than having to close your shop down or seeing it slowly die.
# 2. Costs
If you really can’t afford any outlay, which unfortunately is a state a lot of us are in these days.
- Then why not start with an Ebay shop. This could break you into the online business gently without any big overheads to see if it does suit you, hopefully helping your decisions going forward.
- A Facebook business page with an online shop is another idea to consider and these two options can be set up quite simply.
- The main extra cost you’ll have to endure for an online business is postage and packaging. There are a lot of courier companies around these days and of course the postal service that you can rely on. Decide on your packaging and if you can personalise it all the better.
- A leaflet in the box detailing your products and prices is absolutely priceless advertising too. If someone has ordered from you then they are interested in your products, therefore they are happy to hear about others that you do too and that leaflet is NOT likely to go into the bin. I say this from experience and believe me that all leaflets that come through my postbox go straight into the bin but not when it comes with something I have ordered.
# 3. Delivery
And here’s an idea for local businesses that maybe want to save on the delivery costs involved; if the clients are local – deliver them yourself.
- Like the good old days of the milkman, fizzy pop wagon, bread & cake man – jump in the car or van yourself at the end of your day in the shop and drop the deliveries off.
- Of course as it grows this won’t be feasible but starting off why not? Yes it could mean extra hours but it’ll be worth it to keep your business afloat. See how it goes.
- This is also an idea for someone looking for work with a driving licence and car or van – deliver for local businesses within the town and surrounding areas. I’d order from local businesses straight away if people would deliver to me.
The sign of the times when I moved out to the country was that my 3 main criteria were having broadband, SKY TV and Tesco delivery – but that’s just me.
Your work may change from being behind a counter to doing a lot of packing and posting but if it’s still providing an income then what have you got to lose? I’d love some suggestions below for local shops that may have to sell online to survive or maybe you are a business that has done this already so please let me know.