I’m a huge fan of buying local. Heck, I’m one of the first people to be bummed out when a company I like here in town shuts their doors. Whether it’s a restaurant, a clothing store, etc.
But I feel there’s one huge flaw in the “think local” movement and a huge opportunity for local businesses to swing local consumers behaviors to get them to spend more of their money here in town.
First off, I love the “think local” concept. But I think inherently there is a flaw.
The way that most cities try to get people to “think local” is by playing to their loyalty to our city and the warm and fuzzies that we get as a resident of our town when we spend money here. Spending money equals a bigger local economy, more jobs, it’s things all of us here in Roseburg want. This does sway a certain percentage of people to buy locally when they otherwise may not, because they feel like they’re helping the community.
But, how do you sway the buying habits of the rest of the population (the majority)? The people who want to buy local but don’t because local companies don’t give them a good reason to.
The reason has to be much better than just warm and fuzzies.
We as local businesses have to truly provide the best choice with the best experience for our customers so going elsewhere isn’t even attractive.
What do customers usually look for when they’re buying something?
People want convenience, a great value (doesn’t always mean lowest price), a quality product, and a great experience while they’re getting that product.
Why Amazon Prime Is Stealing Away Your Customers
Amazon Prime is a service that started a few years back where customers pay $79 a year… in exchange for free 2 day shipping on basically everything Amazon sells.
Are the prices at Amazon always the lowest? Nope. But people (including myself) join Amazon Prime because of the convenience. I can order a few books, pay zero shipping costs, and have them on my doorstep within a couple of days.
They shifted my buying pattern by offering a better and easier experience. Not a better price.
Amazon and Zappos shoes aren’t winning on the price game… they’re winning on the customer experience.
If you as a local company want more people to “buy local”… stop trying to make people feel bad for not buying local… and focus on creating your product, your service, and the entire experience so much better and easier than your online or out of town competitors… that it would be crazy for someone to not buy local.
I order about 20 books a month on Amazon. Would I like to order them from someone local instead? Of course. So if you own a bookstore, set up a page on your site where I can put my credit card on file with you, and I say “I need 15 copies of xyz book”… and those copies land in my office without me having to walk into your store. If someone local will do that, I’ll stop buying books from Amazon this week.
Or if you own a bike shop, clothing boutique, or other retail shop… provide more convenience and value than I can get online or out of town. I’m not saying charge lower prices, I’m saying… do things out of town companies can’t… and market the heck out of that value to local residents as hard as you can so we know you offer that.