The closer the holidays, the bigger the dread of Amazon. Right? Around this time, our inbox gets flooded with a host of press releases spelling the end of Black Friday, as the Internet takes over, extends the “real” deals, and showrooming destroys small retail as we know it. Meanwhile, even the big box stores, like Toys R Us and Walmart, are doing something to combat showrooming, but creating mobile apps isn’t necessarily in the purview of most independent retailers. Herewith, other tricks to try:
1. Offer to match prices: Put it on your Facebook page, put it on your Twitter, make a nice sign for the store. Make sure your audience knows. If it’s not financially feasible to offer this on all stock (which, understandably, it probably isn’t), set the prices for a specific range of merchandise. Or feature a few selected price-matched items in a weekly newsletter. Consumers should still appreciate the flexibility.
2. Offer same-city, same-day delivery: Hey, it’s working in Australia. And even the USPS is trying it (though only in San Francisco). You wouldn’t want to be beaten by that relic of an institution, would you?
3. Sell really weird stuff: This is a last resort, because you run the risk that if it’s too obscure even for Amazon, it’s not something anybody actually wants. On the other hand, if you’re really the only game in town selling antique toffee or cold sunshine, that’ll bring people in the — physical — door.
Okay, even if you refuse to stock anything nutty and unusual, at least make like Steven Alan and put a tent in your store.
4. Have a party: Yes, it sounds frivolous, and no, it doesn’t have to be a one-off event. If you’re somewhere cold, just pour hot cider through December 25th. Put art on the walls and have an opening. You have physical space, which is still a commodity — you can do anything. Use it. Just be as humanly charming as possible, with the key word being human — consumers have to show up in person to partake in the fun.
5. Forget Black Friday: Sacre bleu! In all seriousness, if people hate Black Friday so much, why keep emphasizing it? Every year it ends in tales of horror and even death. Send out Christmas cards in early December with coupons. Mail Hannukah greetings with in-store discount codes. Make the sales last all month and get better as time goes on. Reward last-minute shoppers — they’re probably more stressed out and likely to buy, anyway.