Is it change for the good? By this I do not mean that there is anything good about the terrible health crisis and I wish everyone reading this all the best and I hope you all remain well and healthy. What I do mean is could there be something positive to come about of this situation change wise when it comes to consumers and small businesses and how we are all buying and doing business that might benefit the little guys. Are we doing business and buying in a different way at the moment? Yes we are in my mind, meaning we are buying more locally and buying more from small businesses. This article seems to agree too. Spending in local independent bakeries, butchers and grocers has gone up by a third compared to this time last year, as DIY stores have also felt the lockdown boom. Spending data from Barclaycard, which tracks almost half of all card transactions, showed that spending at independent retailers was up by 30.5% between the last week pre-lockdown and the first week after the measures were announced.
Naturally, there is an element of us not having a choice on some occasions to buy in this way at the moment because home deliveries are happening less and less or because of closures and because we don’t want to, nor should we, be far away from our homes to travel to buy. However, I do genuinely feel that a lot of us, actually want to buy locally more and more too. For me as a small business owner, I want to support a fellow SME. I have been in their situation and I understand the pressures of cash flow and knowing that sales can help pay the mortgage or buy a family holiday. Sometimes smaller businesses can be slightly more expensive than the national big boys due to supply chains, buying power etc, but the price is often outweighed by the personal service and relationship building, the feeling safe aspect in a smaller space and the sense that smaller businesses can be better at putting the customer first. How we are made to feel as customers and the customer journey isn’t something to be underestimated. Not now or in the future from a marketing perspective.
Small businesses naturally can react quicker in some ways when it comes to making changes and changing processes in times of trouble or when change is needed to better serve the customer. We are not tied by red tape and hierarchy of management, but having said that, the smaller business doesn’t always have the budget, especially not now, to afford changes and finding new ways to pivot.
I read a piece online recently consumers will remember how companies acted in this time, for the good and for the bad. Marketing Week said “Brands which have made noise about caring for customers and communities, the environment, or more specific causes, may have to dig deep if they are to keep the promises they made now that the world is in the grip of a deadly pandemic.What happens when brand purpose is put to the test – and will customers forgive those brands that don’t meet the mark?”
Of course what we read in the media and online may not be accurate but there are a few news stories out there not putting bigger businesses and their owners in a great light at all. Whereas now we might not be able to or see it as a priority to change suppliers or providers of products and services at home or for our businesses, but when the time comes and we can change and shop/buy more freely, I imagine many of us will stick with/make a switch to use and purchase from our local provider. Hashtags like #buylocal and #buylocally are making some noise in the social media space which echoes these thoughts.
What do you think? Have you always bought locally? If you haven’t before, then will you do more shopping locally and more shopping via smaller businesses once this is all over?
As you may know if you have ever networked with me at Athena meetings, I love a quote and especially a Maya Angelou quote, so to finish this piece – “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Maya Angelou
Here are seven ways to help small businesses stay afloat during the coronavirus crisis – https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/coronavirus-how-to-help-local-small-business-order-online-a9418861.html