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How can small businesses compete with the big chains?

How can small businesses compete with the big chains?


In tough economic times, small businesses can struggle. Big multinational chains often have the scale to undercut local competitors and survive even when times get tough.

What can small businesses do to retain and attract customers in a competitive market?

Identify your business’s advantages

Think about what your business can offer that a multinational operator cannot. For example, you might have the edge on:

  • Local knowledge

  • Close relationships with customers

  • Personalised service

  • Easier parking

  • Specific products and services

  • Immediate availability of products

  • An excellent loyalty scheme

  • Community support

  • Local events

If you’re not sure what your big selling points are, ask your customers.

Show off your advantages online

Leverage your business’s selling points through your online presence. While it might be prohibitively expensive to build a whole new office or store frontage, your online shop-front can be impressive at a fraction of the price.

Step up your social media activity, paying particular attention to sites where local people are active. Invest in outstanding photography, too.

Invest in reviews

Can you find a way to nudge your best customers into providing online feedback? Positive reviews are a vital tool for small businesses to grow their customer base.

  • Make it easy for people to leave reviews – send them an email reminder with a link included.

  • Address negative reviews immediately and professionally.

  • Consider an incentive to provide a review, such as a free extra item immediately or a $5 discount code off their next order. Alternatively they could go in the draw to win a bigger prize. This may also encourage them to shop with you again.

Be boutique

Lean into being small. Customers are willing to pay more for businesses that employ great people, provide quality service and a high-end experience. Invest in providing a polished experience for all your customers.

Appeal to ethical customers

Many shoppers are happy to pay more for sustainable, ethical products and services. Have measurable sustainability credentials and show them off whenever you can.

We’re here to help

For more ideas that are tailored to your business, we can help. Drop us a note or give us a call – we’d love to hear from you.