Have you ever taken your neighborhood shopkeeper as a serious business strategist?
Most probably not!
Well, most of you may be well-acquainted with some of your friendly neighborhood shopkeepers who have been there, most times, from the times when you were in the kindergarten. And they have been there all the time you rushed there for some of your daily needs, be it some stationery like some cheap pens, or others like eggs or bread.
They may have in their shops most of the things that you need on a daily basis. You can buy from them in the least quantities, or in bulk sometimes. Though most of you might not have spared a minute to think about their utility, or business strategy, sometimes you wonder that this guy had started in a very small scale, requiring replenishing his stock on a daily basis. And he had very limited range of things to offer for sale a few years back. And now it seems he has grown big enough to store most things any household may want to shop for, and he has very good sales too.
And probably, over the years, he has amassed a good amount of money, as you can make out from the way his shop looks now, compared to what it was when you started going there for the first time. And look at the car that he drives around, one of the costliest and trendiest in the neighborhood.
All these tell you that his business has grown by leaps and bounds.
And you look at your monthly paycheck, if you are the kind of person who is bound to the office-hour routine. It is hardly enough to pay the bills.
Or, if you are an online marketer who could not make it big, you confess that it would have been better to own a shop like this, instead of wasting time learning from various so-called professional marketers ‘the tricks of making big money online’ or ‘selling it big’ to laugh all your way to the bank just after finishing the marketing online course that you singed up recently.
Nice thoughts. But what pays well to make your own business, online or offline, is to analyze how this neighborhood shopkeeper made it big in a very limited sphere of his business.
The simplest marketing strategies and business success secrets that you can learn from your neighborhood shopkeeper are as follows:
- He carefully notes down what the customer wants but he could not supply, and makes sure that never a customer goes back because he does not have the stocks.
- His prices are lower than the shops at trendy upscale markets because he does not have to pay high rents, pay hefty paychecks to marketing staff, and similar expenses, as mostly the work is done by himself or assisted by his family.
- As he carefully follows what sells the most, he does not overstock his inventories, and reduces the unproductive investments on slow moving inventories.
- He does not pay for advertisements and other marketing expenses and the savings on such expenses are either passed on to his customers as gifts, discounts, reduced prices, etc. This in turn increases his sales and profits.
- His satisfied customers do all the advertising for him by word-of-mouth advertising. Though he never learned any marketing tricks, experience has taught him that a satisfied customer sends to him more new customers, and unsatisfied customers turn away hundreds of other customers.
- He welcomes his customers with a smile on his face, and promises to supply what the customer wants next time, if he goes out of stock, or does not stock what the customer wants. That is the essence of good customer care that brings in more sales, and thereby big profits.
- He targets repeat sales, and never aims at one-time sales at killer prices that can kill his business itself.
- He listens to customer complaints patiently, apologizes for the customers’ inconvenience, and promptly offers a refund, or replacement.
- He stops selling products that have brought in repeated complaints on account of quality, or any other aspect, and he finds better products as replacements.
- His shop will be open all the time the customers are expected to come, or the fixed timings he has announced as his business hours. If he cannot be personally present, he makes sure that an equally responsible person takes care of his shop.
- He does not give false promises, misrepresent the facts about the quality, quantity and other aspects of the items that he sells.
- He carefully watches the new trends in his customers’ choices and looks for such products of high quality that he can sell at affordable prices. This makes the customers stay with him as they always get things of the latest trends, technology, fashion, etc. (Customer loyalty!)
- If there is any decline in his sales, he analyses the reason by himself, and ask the customers what their choices are and what they would like to have from his shop (customer surveys). Based on such facts, he makes changes in his inventories and business strategies (self-taught).
- Knowingly or unknowingly he builds his own brand, like ‘Smith’s Groceries’, or similar names (brand building).
- By practice, and learning over the years, he learns good accounting practices and keeps a healthy balance of his figures (like purchases, sales, profits, etc.)
Well, these are randomly noted aspects of a neighborhood business from my own perspective. I think these very aspects are relevant in online businesses too, if applied with slight modification wherever required. Look for more points from your own perspective. All these business and marketing strategies can be useful not only for neighborhood shops, but also for small businesses (online or otherwise), home-based businesses, and online businesses.