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I've Been (positively) Thinking...

Thinking about... Buying Local

 I've been thinking... about ensuring locals are buying local this month. The growing influence of the internet continues to make retailing a challenge. So it is more important than ever that us locals are buying local.

So how can store owners take up the challenge?

There is no doubt that the face of retailing is changing. In fact the face of many business sectors is changing – not least the communications business that our company Benefitz – publisher of Channel Magazine – is in. But as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going!

What I am seeing in retail is a big gap between those who are changing - and taking on the challenge - and those who are just doing the 'same old, same old'. You can't just do the 'same old, same old' any more. 

Those who are doing well in the current environment continue to come up with new reasons for local people to be loyal, and spend their money locally. These reasons often come from the following list; outstanding quality, great service, speedy service, convenience, a warm welcome, a unique offering, a bonus of some type that punters can't get elsewhere, great pricing, excitement, and the wow factor.

In simple terms, they are doing things that invite people to love what they do, what they offer, and their business in general. They are not standing still and doing the 'same old, same old'. They are continuing to innovate.

No longer in retail can you expect to open the doors and the people will come in. More than ever you've got to give them new reasons to come in.

The good retailers are also embracing the internet. They are boots and all into it with their own sites that most often also means that they are picking up new business from outside their territory.

It was enlightening to interview Sir Stephen Tindall a few weeks ago. One could argue that he single-handedly changed the face of retailing in New Zealand a few years ago. But his Warehouse Group is a classic example of a business that continues to change. They have to, to stay relevant. The business they have today is, I'm sure, much different than it was 10 years ago. During my chat with him he indicated that the internet was making big changes to their business. Getting into the online selling space has been a big part of the change they have made, but remodelling what they are doing at store-level has also been a big part of the equation.

The challenge for smaller retailers is to do the same. I was talking to the owner of a smaller regional retail chain recently that has four outlets. They now have a fifth outlet which is their website, that brings in as much business as one of their bricks and mortar stores.

In summary, this is my advice to retailers to take on the challenge...

Remember, your location is actually an advantage. Most of your potential customers are on your doorstep, you just have to make sure you are giving them a reason to come in. Organise your marketing aimed at ensuring locals 'love' your business. Sponsor; engage with the community. Advertise; combine the advertising with a good website and sell online to grow new customers in other territories.

Secondly, make sure you tick all these boxes; quality, service, convenience, a warm welcome (with a smile), innovation, pricing, product, the wow factor.

There are some great examples of local businesses doing these things and doing well. In short, we've got to ensure we are giving locals real good reasons to buy locally.

Playground all go!

In our June issue we highlighted the offer of Jackie Kerridge and Chris Reeve to gift a world class playground to Takapuna, from their own pockets and by fundraising. A great offer when you consider the constraints on money available from the public purse. 

I was thrilled to hear in mid-August that the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board have given the green light to the project and are getting in behind it.

Fantastic news for Takapuna and fantastic news for our local kids of all ages!

We will keep you informed on timing for the build in upcoming issues. 

by Aidan Bennett