go local why?

Image Source: Locobc.com

As a copywriter for small businesses, I try to buy local whenever possible. It’s important to me to see mom and pop shops succeed in our economy.

This year, I’m putting the focus on giving everyone I love (yes, even my big brother) hippie gifts. I wanted to focus on presents that are handmade, locally sourced, or purchased from sustainable brands.

And that’s exactly what I set out to do. This copywriter learned a few things though. So, small business, if you want my big Holiday dollars, please take heed of how you’re losing sales:

Bad shopping carts.

I don’t usually buy gift cards. This time, I needed to. They were for a privately-owned restaurant local to a friend. I clicked on the buy now link, got into the cart feature, started to check out and … a bogus $5.95 fee popped up.

Let’s get this straight; I’m buying a piece of paper that costs you $0.45 cents to mail … a nice fat percentage of gift cards are never even redeemed, making them free money in your pocket, AND my purchase is bringing in a new customer who might have never visited you before … and you want to charge me $5.95?

The Fix: Test your shopping cart feature and make sure it’s smart. If you must charge a bogus fee (this fee was on a $35 gift card by the way) tell the buyer why in a personal message, “Sorry, folks, we make grandma address the envelopes by hand. She says thank you.”

Website pages are misdirected.

Another ‘Get Your Gift Cards’ link went straight to the contact page of a website. So, you want me to call your business, speak to a kid behind the counter and hope, from hundreds of miles away, after they take my money, that they have the foresight to address an envelope, stamp it, and mail it?

Buyers have to trust you. And they absolutely don’t want to have to work to give you their money. Make it as easy as possible for them to pay you by just adding a silly form page to the website.

The Fix: Hire a gift card fulfillment centers (like EGW) that can do this for you. In this case, you could potentially pass on the small fee to your buyer, as well.

local buying stats

Image Source: YesMagazine.org

Prices are too high on generic items.

My biggest gripe about the local hardware store is the higher prices on generic items. While the grab-and-go mentality of day to day purchases makes most prices higher thanks to a convenience fee, what about bigger items?

To attract a loyal following, you have to make sure you are giving an additional service to the buyer. This means your snow shovel should have an ergonomic handle or come in a fancy color to help you stand out from the competition. Then, they can justify a few dollars more on it.

The Fix: Keep yourself in check by Googling several items regularly. See what the prices should be, then adjust for the market value. Remember, even if you lose a little on item A, your buyer will also purchase items, B, C and D when they stop by.

Ill-conceived business hours.

Closed again? Really? Your business hours need to be in line with Holiday shopping. I once visited a store three times trying to purchase used designer jeans. But they closed at 5pm … how can I get there at 5pm if I work until 5pm?

The Fix: Pay attention to what your neighbors do. Also, try hiring a temporary worker to run the store. See if your profits equal more than paying them for a few hours.

Lazy, unmanaged employees.

Excited people are contagious. Those who stand around and look bored aren’t. Encourage your employees to engage with customers in a meaningful way. 

The Fix: There are several great questions that start conversations easily, like, Who are you shopping for? It helps customers feel connected and engaged with your brand.

Emails go unanswered. 

People are not just shopping in stores these days; they are researching online first, then going to the store to buy an item. When my gift card transaction couldn’t be completed, I sent an email.

In other words, I was a customer, hook, line and sinker. All they had to do was email me back or call me to get my business … and they didn’t. Every day that goes by I get closer to buying something else instead.

The Fix: Answer questions when emailed. It’s so silly I can’t believe I’m writing it.

The majority of small business sales are lost thanks to poor management. After all, if running a business were easy, everyone would do it.  Just remember that you really only have one job to do; Make it easy and convenient for people to buy from you.

Elspeth Misiaszek uses her writing and online marketing skills to help vegan businesses, coaches and entrepreneurs increase sales on their websites and blogs. Email today for a free consultation on turning your blogs into ebooks, ecourses and marketable material.