The importance of shopping with independent businesses this festive season
Pinch punch it’s the first of the month. It is that time of year again – the madness has officially begun. It’s 01st December 2020 – and as Slade clearly articulated with their memorable hit from back in 1973, It’s Chrisstttmasssssss!
Although the shops are reopening on December 03rd, this year’s shopping sprees are going to be slightly different to what most of us are used to. Christmas shopping will most likely be done in front of a screen from the comfort and sanctuary of our own homes; as the global pandemic still causes fear and anxiety amongst us all.
What does this mean for independent businesses? Converting or adopting to online methods of selling could be the only thing that will help to keep them afloat after the shockingly poor economical year we have faced – making it even more essential that we support independent businesses this Christmas.
“A recent Simply Business survey found that the Covid-19 pandemic has cost the average small business in the UK over £11,000.” (Simply Business, 2020)
Their survey found that Scotland and the North East were hit harder than anywhere else outside of the capital, with average loss of earnings of over £15,000.
Covid-19 has without a doubt affected the economy globally. However, there is still hope for smaller businesses – if we all unite and support small, local and independent businesses!
As our previous blog post has shown, there have been signs that SME retailers are better equipped to survive the second lockdown, with over 16,000 SMEs growing through ecommerce. Supporting these smaller businesses that have migrated to online is essential – especially this Christmas to ensure their survival for 2021.
Just remember that most retail businesses generate 80 percent of their annual income in December (See Only Good News Daily, 2020).
It is now common knowledge, both from experience and the many news headlines, that our shopping methods have changed forever. The pandemic has caused many shops to either convert to ecommerce methods or close forever. “But what the pandemic has also uncovered—call it a silver lining—is an increased sense of community. We are all in this together. And our communities rely on the small businesses at the heart of them.” (Shopify, 2020)
Need a good reason to support independent businesses this Christmas? Well the bottom line is that if we don’t these businesses will most likely cease to exist in the New Year.
Don’t be tempted by the A word – Amazon – this Christmas
Don’t just be an ‘amazon basic’ as Shopify has so recently put it on Instagram this week, meaning don’t just do all your Christmas shopping through a big box business like Amazon. Be creative this year with your gifts and support independent businesses.
The purpose of this blog is, to hopefully inspire you to think differently when shopping online this festive season, but to also comment on the fact that sometimes shopping locally is less tempting when big box stores, such as amazon, offer cheaper products and fast delivery options.
Who else is guilty of just searching on Amazon when they need a product quickly? I know I am.
I have however, been persuaded to try to stir away from the retail giants, as the BBC refers to them, after hearing that they not only take a large profit from their sellers, but they have been using their sellers own product data to undercut them and outsell them on their own product.
Recently, the European antitrust lawsuit accuses Amazon of undercutting small business. In summary; Amazon uses data from local merchants or independent businesses who sell their products using Amazon’s marketplace to determine which products are ‘trending’. From this they can outsource and undercut these businesses directly.
“The lawsuit is saying that Amazon is actually harvesting some of the private information of these small businesses with the intention of making the same products — or at least competitive products — which eventually end up undercutting those businesses.” (My North West, 2020)
There is a lot of bad press around Amazon at the moment, they have also been recently slandered for their lack of safety measurements against Covid-19 in amongst their warehouse staff (See BBC, 2020).
“The retail giant has faced lawsuits in both Europe and the US claiming it is not doing enough to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in its warehouses.”
“One US union accused the firm of profiting from the pandemic while leaving its workers unprotected.” (BBC, 2020)
I am not saying never shop with Amazon again, because let’s face it that wouldn’t be realistic. I for one agree that the convenience of their delivery system is next to none. However, it is vital to understand the dangers of hosting products on marketplaces like this and the impact it can have on your local community.
9 top tips for supporting independent businesses
Unlike some super organised people who have already completed and wrapped all their gifts, I (like many) haven’t even started let alone finished my Christmas shopping!
This year I thought I would try to change this and pledged to try my best to only shop at independent stores to support locally rather than big box stores – however, though this is a humbling gesture, it is proving much easier said than done.
It is very easy to be tempted by the next day’s delivery and smaller price tags. Therefore, I thought it would be useful, after doing a little of my own research, to fashion a list of ways you can support independents this Christmas;
- Social media is your best friend. You can exploit social media’s search tools to find products. Using the trending #supportsmallbusinesses will bring up all the relevant posts using this hashtag – you may have to sieve through some of the noise but it is worth it!
- Do your research. On social media there are currently some accounts on Instagram such as @supporting_small_businesses_ that promote independent businesses through their social channel. If you type into search engines terms like ‘homemade personalised bookmarks’ smaller businesses will appear.
- Esty and Not On The High Street are online stores that host thousands and thousands of independent businesses. They are most known for products such as personalised gifts, jewellery and homeware. I always think something that is personalised or sentimental in some way is much better than something generic and predictable.
- ‘Gift better’ by Shopify. Shopify have recently released a gift guide that you can follow. It lists over 100 different independent businesses that use Shopify to generate online transactions. It is a great little guide to get inspiration and find the different stores that are out there.
- Ask around and shop around – people you speak to on a daily basis might know of independent or local stores. Ask your friends, family and loved ones if they know any great tips or stores to help out your local community this year. Buying the first thing you see isn’t going to be necessarily the best thing. Once you have an idea for a gift see what different businesses you can find.
- The power of reviews. Martin Fitzgerald, our Customer Success Manager recently wrote an insightful blog on the power of customer reviews. “People trust people” – it’s true! Leave a review if you have found the service good or have enjoyed the product and will persuade others to do the same.
- Buy gift cards. Giving someone a gift card for their favourite shop, coffee shop restaurant, beauty salon or gym is much more personal. This is a great way to give your loved ones something exciting to look forward to when normality kicks back in, and it also ensures that local businesses will profit after a massive decrease in foot-traffic.
- Tag tag tag! And I don’t mean the kind on your presents – I mean tag using social media. Any products that you post on social media need to include the social media handle of the independent business. It costs nothing, takes a second and is a great way to gain them some more visitor traffic.
- Amongst all this madness don’t forget charities! Your friends and family might appreciate a donation in their name towards a charity of their liking – think of a local charity in your community.
How are PureClarity doing their part?
At PureClarity we are huge believers in supporting local and independent businesses. Just recently we have partnered up Yorkshire based Masons of Yorkshire and Cartwright and Butler, a local gin supplier and luxury hamper and treat provider, to provide us with gifts for our Christmas giveaways, feature showcase (great things pending) and competitions.
In addition, PureClarity works with any amount of business data. Our personalisation software is successful for any business whether this be large, medium or small. Our cold start data package works brilliantly with small businesses with low levels of customer data.
It is practically essential for any business to have an ecommerce site. A great way to get ahead of the competition this Christmas is through ecommerce personalisation.
PureClarity’s advanced ecommerce personalisation software and abundant feature set makes personalising your online store less time consuming, affordable, effective and positioning your products as gift ideas easier than ever. Plus we are a really great bunch of people to work with who will do whatever it takes to see your business become a success.