As an independent grocer, you have the advantage of being able to provide a personal touch to your customers, but competition from large chain stores can make things a challenge. To stand out and build a loyal customer base, you need to offer something different. How do you go about doing that? How can you change things up to bring in more customers while you stand out from the competition?
Key Ways to Help Your Business Stand out From The Competition
When it comes to standing out from the competition, remember to keep these three points in mind:
- Work with Your Community
Any change you make must be done with your community in mind. Ultimately, if you create a grocery business that doesn’t appeal to the people who live near you, you’ll fail. If you haven’t yet chosen a location, however, you do have some freedom. If you have a specific vision for your grocery business, you’ll then use market research in order to find where your customer base is located.
Your approach will depend on the size of your store and the community you serve. For example, in areas with higher disposable income, consider hosting cooking demonstrations or other ticketed events to attract customers. In areas with tighter budgets, offer bulk food at competitive prices to appeal to price-conscious customers. Areas that see a lot of sustainability and eco-living initiatives will also gravitate towards bulk foods, so if you live in such an area, follow up with eco-friendly brands and reusable products to boost sales further.
- Be Flexible and Adaptable
It doesn’t matter how much work you put into your store to update it today. If the neighborhood shifts and changes, then so should you. The needs of your community may change over time, after all, and your store needs to reflect those changes. Stay attuned to the changing landscape and be willing to adapt your services and offerings to meet the evolving needs of your customers.
- Stand Out With Innovative Value
At the end of the day, your business is only as valuable as the value it offers to customers. Take the time to understand the needs of those in your community, and work to establish services or features that will make your store more appealing to customers than the big-box brands. In some cases, the services are as simple as offering a pickup or delivery service. In other cases, live cooking demonstrations are a better choice. Always start with the most ubiquitous, value-adding features first. This way, you can compete before you start to invest in ways to stand out against your competition.
Where to Get Started
As stated, you need to work from the bottom when it comes to upgrading your offerings and services. First, you need to enter the competition in order to compete, so to speak. If you aren’t sure where to get started, here are a few key places to get started:
The best way to stand out from the competition while also giving your customers a great alternative is to cut out as much plastic packaging as possible from your store. Customers hate plastic and are actively interested in alternatives that save them from throwing out piece after piece of plastic. At the same time, you may not want to stock upper-budget products, so what do you do?
Many fruits and vegetable suppliers offer plastic-free products. You can also offer bulk foods. This will not only help customers save, but it will attract those looking for larger quantities. Say, for example, you put in an order for bulk garlic powder. You sell this garlic in your zero-waste section. One customer comes in to refill their small spice jar. Another customer who runs a bakery out of their home or who is preparing for a bake sale comes and takes a large container of garlic so that they can make large quantities of garlic bread. When you offer bulk shopping, you remove the packaging and can cater to a wider range of customers.
Offer Foods at Various Price Points
Offering a range of food options at different price points can be a key strategy for independent grocery stores to attract customers from all budget ranges. By providing options for both premium and budget-friendly products, independent grocery stores can cater to a wider audience, including those looking for high-quality, organic products and those seeking more affordable options. This diversity in pricing can help build a loyal customer base, as people can find what they need within their budget, leading to repeat visits and increased revenue for the store. By being mindful of the varying financial situations of their customers, independent grocery stores can stand out from larger chain stores and build a strong reputation within their communities.
In today’s digital age, it’s crucial for independent grocery stores to have a strong online presence. Establishing an online presence can help attract new customers and make shopping more convenient for existing ones.
A good place to start is on social media. Start by showcasing the inside of the store on social media platforms. This will help open up your store and make it feel more welcoming, even to newcomers.
To really grow and stand out, however, you need to start offering online shopping. This doesn’t have to mean selling every product you stock in-store online. You can start by putting up a few essentials across the shelves so that customers can put in an order for their weekly shop. You can initially set this so that their order will be ready for pickup, but as you grow, you’ll want to look into establishing a delivery service.
Luxury Value-Adding Ideas
By adapting to the changing market and consumer demands, independent grocery stores can remain competitive and grow their customer base. Many neighborhoods, for example, see an increase in income levels over the decades as the area fills in and more amenities are made available. In order to stay competitive in a gentrifying neighborhood, you need to start thinking about what services you can offer that would add that touch of something extra. Offer cooking demonstrations or courses, for example. Work to bring in a special range of products. Invest in a total makeover for your store. The list is endless.