If you are living around city centres, you may feel some noticeable changes these days. The once-bustling streets and busy offices were much quieter. With more and more companies embracing the remote working policies, it just adds more loneliness and emptiness to the already quiet streets in city centres. The pandemic changes everything.
Since the 1980s, retailers are dominating high streets and shopping centres. Zooming into the situation today, things are not working in the best favour for big retailers. With much fewer people in the city centre now, even discounts on products cannot keep big brands from suffering a major loss in revenues.
On the other hand, small, nimble businesses have been picking up their speed in these rough days. But how is that even possible? Let’s dive into one of our favourite examples of the resurgence of independent businesses – the indie bookshops.
Indie bookshops were on the brink of collapse back in the early 2000s, when Amazon was growing exponentially year after year. The rough business conditions that the pandemic brings, coupled with the competitive onslaught of Amazon makes the situation for retail far from ideal for local independent businesses to operate. Yet indie bookshops are doing better than ever! With more people working from home, they are more likely to shop in their neighbourhoods, for both essentials and entertainment purposes.
This tale gives not only hope but also a roadmap for independent retailers to survive, and also thrive these days. So, what exactly did the next-door indie bookshop do right?
Real Life Authentic Conversation
Amazon uses their complicated algorithms to find out what to recommend to us. A local bookshop owner does not have the resources to build this algorithm – what do they do now? In fact, they can do something that Amazon cannot – jump into an engaging, real-life conversation to recommend personal book choice for their customers. Their authenticity in engaging with their customers in real life is their superpower against Amazon’s unlimited resources.
The pandemic has once again reminded us that deep down inside, we crave real connection and a sense of community. Nowadays, people make a conscious effort to shop more locally, sustainably as well as more ethically. And as customers buy more frequently from you, they will have more trust in your products and services. Therefore, they are more likely to recommend your business to their families and friends. That is the power of a community.
The importance of a physical community for local businesses is immense, but in the meantime, independent retailers must also extend their arms to potential customers in the digital world too. Notifying customers on social media when you are open and what you are selling is as important as having an engaging conversation with customers in your store. Give them a way to connect with you digitally. We are witnessing a renaissance of local cultures in local streets – the skate shop, the streetwear shop, and the café. It is not all about the stuff that you sell: The people behind the business matter too. And at refive, we want to further drive this movement forward by giving local merchants the digital tools they need in their daily businesses, starting with the digital receipt.
All you have to do is keep doing what you do best – make awesome products, offer superb service, and engage with your customers in the digital and physical world. For the last part, we can help you out with that via our digital receipt!