Are local retailers ready to flex their omnichannel muscles?
By many indications, scores of independent retailers have rushed to launch or expand e-commerce, introduce curbside pickup and local delivery and amplify their social media presence to survive the pandemic.
The moves should position independents to compete more effectively in a post-pandemic world. Evidence has been largely anecdotal, with numerous articles detailing the drastic shifts local shops have taken given pandemic-driven restrictions on their physical stores.
Among the few surveys, one released in June from the Running Industry Association, which supports independent running shops, found curbside pickup being embraced by 94 percent of running shops; home delivery adopted by 75 percent; vendor drop shipments, 87 percent; and virtual shopping (e.g., Facetime), 52 percent.
Another report from early August from Faire, the online wholesale marketplace for independents, found 70 percent of local retailers investing in new or existing online channels during the pandemic.
In a column for TotalRetail, Max Rhodes, CEO at Faire, said many independents are taking advantage of their proximity in email marketing. He wrote, “While large chains struggle with reaching beyond highly repetitive promotional content, smaller retailers are able to offer unique connections with customers on a more personal level.”
According to American Express, 56 percent of U.S. consumers shopping on Small Business Saturday shopped online with a small business, up from 43 percent for the day in 2019. More than 50 percent of those who reported shopping small on the day supported a local business through social media.
Larger chains have likewise significantly enhanced their omnichannel practices due to the pandemic, although many Americans have expressed a desire to support local businesses during the time.
A recent survey from Comcast Business found 46 percent of consumers were more likely to patronize local or small businesses this holiday season. The top reason for shopping small was to give back to their communities, cited by 53 percent. Asked which technology features would make them more likely to shop small businesses more often, the top answers were BOPIS, 44 percent; curbside pickup, 30 percent; and contactless payment methods, 21 percent. Three quarters agreed it’s important that retailers offer online shopping.
- Running Industry Association COVID-19 Retail Survey Results – Phase 2 – Running Industry Association
- How Local Retailers Will Thrive in a Post-COVID Environment – TotalRetail
- American Express’ 11th Annual Small Business Saturday Reaches a Record High with an Estimated $19.8 Billion in Reported Spending – American Express/WebWire
- Data reveals 84 percent of consumers mindful of the businesses they support; 46 percent more likely to shop at small businesses – Comcast Business
- Has COVID-19 made the ‘shop local’ message more real for consumers? – RetailWire
- Schnucks Continues Support Of Local Restaurants; Awards Gift Cards To Teammates – Schnuck Markets
- Website helps people shop local and safe this holiday season – KGW
- Ohio Council of Retail Merchants Launches “Buy In Ohio” Campaign – Buy Ohio
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do many independents appear to be in better shape to compete online and omnichannel against bigger retailers coming out of the pandemic? What further investments may be required? Are independents necessarily at a disadvantage in the battle for omnichannel shoppers?