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Shop Local / The Challenges of Shop Local (and how ShowMe can help)

The Challenges of Shop Local (and how ShowMe can help)

A phone with a map on the screen.

Most people know that shopping locally is important, but that doesn’t mean they will do it. Let’s explore some of the shop local “roadblocks”, the things that might prevent or deter people from choosing to shop local (whether true or simply perceived by shoppers):

  • Shopping locally is more expensive.
    This would not always be the case but yes, you can sometimes save money online or at big box retailers. This is where education is required to demonstrate how saving a few dollars in the short term can cost more in the long term by the loss of local jobs, decline in commercial taxes, and loss of convenience.
  • Shopping locally is inconvenient (easier to buy everything in one place).
    Yes, everyone is busy and going from store to store trying to “find something” can be inconvenient. With ShowMe, shoppers can get a sense of the range of products a business carries before they commit to the visit. This allows a shopper to cut down on “search time” and find what they are looking for quickly.
  • People are unaware of what is available locally
    One of the biggest reasons people don’t shop locally is that they are unaware of everything that is available to them in their local area!

    With ShowMe, shoppers can view their proximity to local businesses via their location on a map. They can also easily categorize their search so that they are only shown local businesses of interest to them. ShowMe takes the guesswork out of shop local – it’s easy to shop local when you can see what’s local!
  • Supply-chain issues (COVID) if something is out-of-stock the customer will just purchase it online.
    There is not much local business owners can do to prevent certain stock related issues. Balancing demand and inventory is always challenging, especially in extraordinary circumstances such as a pandemic. Again, this is best addressed with education to create understanding.
  • Guilt / uncomfortableness in smaller stores (customers often feel obligated to engage in small talk or feel “watched” by the owner/clerks).
    Whether this is applicable to a particular shop, or a general business area is something to be considered. If it is, then perhaps a customer service initiative should be launched (never a bad idea) to help improve the shopper experience. Creating a video to promote your business as a friendly and inviting place and adding it to your ShowMe listing would be a great way to avoid this misconception.
  • Less flexible return or exchange policies.
    This is where the online giants have an advantage with their ability to manage large volumes of returns and either absorbing the losses or channeling the returned goods through a network of resellers to help cover those losses.

    The reality is that “Shoppers return 5 to 10 percent of what they purchase in a local store but 15 to 40 percent of what they buy online.” With online clothing and footwear purchases in the 30-40 percent bracket. We shouldn’t feel good about that because it does come at a huge environmental cost and in some way we all end up covering those losses. Keeping it local helps eliminate that type of waste.

    A benefit of shopping local is that you can go into the store and view the item yourself, unlike online shopping. As well, local business owners tend to be experts on the products they sell. Shopping locally in-store will likely give you the chance to ensure a product is right for you before you commit to purchasing it. Shoppers making more informed decisions can help reduce the number of returns.
  • Inconvenient shopping hours.
    Small businesses are run by real people who have lives just like everyone else. Plus, they don’t usually have budgets to hire staff to cover times when the revenue from sales can’t cover those wages. Perhaps this calls for some creative, innovative thinking to help address the challenge.

As you can see, there are many reasons why people might not choose to shop local. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, utilizing ShowMe in your shop local campaign can address many of these issues. Acknowledging these potential or perceived roadblocks is the first step in creating a successful shop local campaign!