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By: Kathy Henderson, Director of Economic Development (CCEDC)

These days all you need sometimes to start a new business is a laptop a smartphone and a space to work such as a kitchen table.  You can create an ecommerce site and your customers can begin purchasing your products or services without you having a huge expense.  No lease agreements to sign nor monthly rents to pay. Just you and your laptop…right? 

Maybe not.  Depending on the type of products you are selling, a brick and mortar store is still a huge benefit for your business to be successful.  Especially if the products you are selling are something that your customers want to be able to try out first. 

Many shoppers do their research online first before they even leave the house.  It is so much easier comparing prices and products without leaving the comfort of your home rather than driving from store to store.  However, there are still some things that customers need to see and try in person before making a purchase. Some customers even go to the store itself to first try a product out and then end up purchasing it while at the location anyway.  Why? Excellent customer service and the personal touch of a great salesperson. 

As easy as shopping online can be some customers still prefer to “shop local”.  By having a physical location, a business can be a proud member of the community and that offers an edge when you want to attract those “shop local” customers.   

Another benefit of a bricks and mortar location is when a customer needs to return merchandise.   It is much easier for the customer to come to your location, return the item, and then pick up a replacement without having to wait on shipping.  It also brings that customer back through your door.

The “buy online, pick up in the store” trend is also popular.  If you offer this service, you may want to consider offering a discount or special offer to those customers.  After all a customer coming in the door offers another opportunity for additional sales. 

I’m sure you have seen customers comparing prices on their smartphones while shopping. This may seem like a bad idea for your business, however in order to help build customer loyalty, consider matching a competitor’s prices if the customer shows it to you.   

A massive number of consumers rely on a physical store as a place to interact in the real world.  Make sure you have both a physical and an online presence since they can have such a powerful influence on each other. 

As a local business, you are a valuable member of the community and can help create that sense of place that’s so important to small towns.  Becoming a member of Carbon Chamber and Economic Development Corp. helps to support the programs and initiatives that the Chamber offers which in turn helps the local business community.  Besides, it’s just the right thing to do.