retailers Have the Ball, p. 5

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Another developing concept is localism, notes King. The trend comes partly from individuals’ interest in reinvesting their funds in their own communities for mutual benefit; though not all partakers are driven by an altruistic motive. Some people simply need to save on gas. Still others, says King, have daily lives that are now more rooted in their own communities; for instance, people who telecommute and run home-based businesses. Whatever the case, increasingly more consumers may begin stumbling upon your store.

“It basically means that people are spending more time in their communities, buying more things locally and believing that doing so helps their communities,” says King. “There’s a whole buy-local effort out there that national organizations are pushing, and communities themselves are starting to see the value of that.”

Subsequently, marketing tactics can help steer shoppers to patronize local stores. Some ways of achieving this are by generating some positive Yelp reviews—an online platform that allows business reviews to be posted and reviewed—maintaining a website and registering the business with a few different search engines, such as Google, to garner placement in local search results, says King. “Google [now] really favors local search results. So if you type in ‘beauty supplies,’ you’re going to get the big beauty supplies, but you’re also going to get the ones where you live—assuming you’ve given Google permission to use your location, which most people unknowingly have,” says King. “Google is doing this because it’s what consumers want.”

Social media also is key to making consumers aware of your store and building relationships with them as they become customers. It’s a platform where retailers can extend their efforts in helping customers feel the intangible value they seek. Facebook and Twitter are now the foremost tools in helping consumers develop attachments to businesses. They provide platforms to present deals and offers, contests, discounts, sales, advice, and plain-old personality and promotion. Their accounts are also, generally speaking, easy to use and maintain. Many businesses may even have chosen them as substitutes for actual websites for a time. But experts expect that a time is fast-approaching when businesses will have to provide some type of Web presence simply to survive.

“The tech trends are changing. They’re just going to become more important,” says King. “Increasingly, I think without an online presence, beauty [stores] will start to feel that. Today, it’s probably optional; but longer term, it’s going to be a requirement.”

Fortunately, creating a website is no longer the expensive endeavor it used to be. Options are now available that make the investment a couple of hundred dollars. There are also solutions that simplify the entire process from design to maintenance. “It’s not a huge investment at all. Web technology has gotten to the point where you should be able to create a pretty nice-looking website,” says King.

“[And], the cost of creating a website continues to fall. It shouldn’t be cost or technical skills holding people back.”

[Image: thinkstock.com/Photodisc]