On any given street, sometimes sandwiched in between big box stores and major banks, you can see companies whose business model and values almost look like a variation of the Golden Rule.
It’s the barber shop whose staff makes sure to memorize the first name of everyone who comes in for a haircut. It’s the florist who calls to say they remembered your mother’s birthday is coming up, and has a suggestion about a bouquet you could send. It’s the moving company that leaves a bottle of wine on your new dining room table once all the boxes have been brought into your new home.
The best local businesses take “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and rewrite it as, “Treat every customer as you would love to be treated if you were the customer.” This is just one of the reasons local businesses make dream clients. They often launch out of a deep sense of personal mission. Owners are usually hands-on with almost everything, because they care about the entire customer experience. They often become pillars of their community, integral to the fabric of life in a particular neighborhood.
Being an agency that offers products and services that help local businesses succeed, particularly around helping them create hyperlocal ecommerce, is not only a smart move, but often a highly fulfilling one. If you’ve felt called in this direction, there has literally never been a better time to act. Local businesses are in greater need of help to grow — and simply survive — than ever before. While large enterprises have been pursuing digital transformation to scale, compete with rivals, and expand into new markets, local businesses may have felt insulated from technological disruption.
The rise of mobile apps and devices, cloud computing and the maturation of marketing, sales and customer service tools have all created new customer expectations that local businesses can’t afford to ignore. In some cases, the inability to offer digital processes throughout the customer journey and even a local ecommerce website means customers abandon a local business in favor of another one, or for a larger company.
In others, digitally native companies have been able to establish themselves without a physical location through local ecommerce, creating new entrants and even new business models in some markets. Large enterprises are also laser-focused on using technology to offer personalization in everything they do, creating the kind of intimate customer relationships and experiences that were once the hallmark of a local businesses’ approach.
Today, small firms not only need to be able to operate in digital channels, but in some cases to compete with the biggest brands. That said, the need to transform might have been perpetually "backburnered," were it not for the outbreak of COVID-19.
Almost overnight, many local businesses found themselves in a world in which their physical operations needed to temporarily shut down, or continue with major restrictions in place. Customers they were used to welcoming in person needed to be served from the comfort and quarantined confines of their homes. Fulfillment moved to curbside pickup and delivery, requiring increased sophistication in everything from managing inventory to taking orders and scheduling.
Even as the world gets vaccinated and case counts diminish, the effect of the pandemic will permanently alter the local business landscape as much as it does everything else. It’s not all bad news, however. Those ecommerce and marketing agencies serving local businesses have an opportunity to not only help them to pivot and make long-term changes for the better, but enhance the customer experience they deliver and make them even more valued by their communities.
Many of the tools required for the job are also readily available, and have been for years. They have evolved in such a way they can be used by people without a technical background, and adapted to the unique needs of almost any business. The only thing missing from all this is a set of trusted advisors to help local businesses navigate this journey.
Always time-crunched and under-resourced, the typical small business has even fewer hours in the day to tackle digital transformation on their own. Local businesses need good advice from local experts who understand what their customers want and can help to develop a strategy and provide the technologies and services that deliver it.
Not everyone can be that trusted advisor. You need to have all the solutions, demonstrate value, and expertise. In certain industries, the need to achieve specific certifications or qualify for reseller programs makes this challenge even greater. What are the steps and best practices for building a local agency and ensuring that it becomes the kind of partner that local businesses will love?
Get the Vendasta Ecommerce Series Insight Report: Building an Agency to Compete in the ‘Local Business Experience’ Economy to learn how to compete on the experience you offer by helping your clients do the same. Discover how to think just as locally as they do.