It would be fair to say that current economic news headlines are hardly a ray of sunshine.

As an SME, this is ultimately worrying times. These concerns can intensify, particularly if you happen to be based on the high street. After all, we’ve all also seen the suggestions that this part of retail is anything but thriving, with retailers having to compete with business rates, liability insurance requirements, rising rents and everything in-between.

Of course, some businesses prosper during these periods, which is where today’s article comes in. Let’s now look at some methods you can use to beat the dreaded high street blues.

Don’t try and compete on price

If you try to get people into your store by competing on prices, you are fighting a losing battle. Yes, you might manage to be the cheapest price on the street, but with more shoppers turning to online stores, you’re unlikely to win the nationwide battle.

This is where a degree of creativity is required. Think about how you can make your store stand out from the crowd. This might be by selling items unique to your business or offering a VIP service that others don’t. There have been umpteen examples of companies creating an “experience” in-store succeeding, and those that rely on ancient techniques dropping out of the market. Make sure you fall into the former category.

Have the best staff in the business

It sounds easy, right? However, like it or not, your people are the face of your company and can act as a superb USP when it comes to beating high-street woes.

While you might not have the big budgets that national competitors have, you do have people-power on your side. You can train your staff to be personable and to really get to know your customers. This is in contrast to larger chains, which need to keep one eye on scalability and often rely on excess procedures.

While we’re on the subject of staff, it’s also essential to ensure you’re focused on customer service. This is one area where you can really make a difference in your business.

In an age of social media, getting word-of-mouth exposure has never been easier. If you’re offering outstanding customer service, you’re more likely to have this talked about online. This is the kind of marketing that money can’t buy and is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.

Use technology to your advantage

Technology can be a fantastic asset for SMEs. In fact, it’s often the smaller businesses that can take advantage of the latest innovations and trends.

One such example is, again, the use of social media. While the bigger boys on the block might have a bigger budget for marketing, they can’t match you for agility. You can use social media to connect with your customers on a personal level and build a relationship with them.

Of course, technology can also be adopted in-store.

Many high-street stores now use in-store tablets and other devices to enhance the shopping experience. This might be in the form of providing customers with information or helping them to find items in-store.

It may even be about automating some of your past activities. For example, you may opt for digital signage, meaning changes are almost instantaneous. Let’s not forget that while you should focus on bringing in more revenue, shrewd resource-saving measures can also help you in this battle of the high street.

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to editor.webposts@gmail.com.

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