Shopping Local

Part Two

In Part One of this series I introduced the idea that small businesses need to re-message their shop local campaigns with better arguments for asking for customer loyalty.  The first message that we need to send is that local residents’ own choice of quality, better paying jobs is directly impacted by their own choice of where they spend their money.

Another benefit of shopping locally that a consumer can actually relate to is the availability of quality choices when they want them fast.

We all regularly encounter circumstances where it would be really nice to get some specialty item today, and not have to order it in and wait for it.  In recent weeks, I have wanted a better-than average snow shovel, a Yoga mat for my wife, and a particular fireplace accessory.  All three times, I drove to multiple destinations and could not find exactly what I wanted ready for me to take home.  Why?

This frustration is one that all consumers experience and, in fact, it gets used to prop up their internet shopping behaviors.  “My local stores don’t stock what I want, so why should I support them??”

I attempted to answer that in a 4-part “Think Local” series for K-State University (full article).  In summary, we have a chicken & egg conundrum: did local stores stop stocking quality choices, driving consumers to look online, or did losing consumers to online discounters after these shoppers were aware of the in-store choices lead to local stores dropping the items that they could no longer be price-competitive with?

In reality, both happened across many millions of transactions, side-by-side, over the last 15 years-or-so of online eCommerce.  Consumers liked the golden age of unlimited local choice and then turning to online discounters to save money, but the golden age is coming to a close and there are fewer stores, fewer shelves, and fewer choices locally.  Small businesses cannot afford to be showrooms for consumers to decide what they want to buy online, and only buy it locally when they really want it today.  Yet, they somehow expect it to still be on local shelves today for their convenience in those instances that they are in a hurry?

This all fits within the problem of Commoditization.

Jeff Koenig