This is the second in our series based on Challenges of the
Future: The Rebirth of Small Independent Retail in America, a 64 page white paper by Jack Stanyon, underwritten by the George H. Baum
Community Charitable Trust, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, and the
National Retail Federation Foundation.

 First, some background. Ninety percent of all American businesses employ fewer than 20
people. Small business accounts for 40%
of the GDP and 66% of all jobs created in the past 25 years. According to the New York Times, in 1970
there were sixteen entrepreneurship programs in colleges and universities in
the United States. In 2004, there were 1,500.

 More than 95% of all retailers have only one outlet. Almost 90% have sales less than $2.5 million
and more than 98 percent have fewer than 100 employees.

 In his research, Stanyon uncovered eight trends and six
challenges that are more or less universal to all independent retailers. Some trends may help the smaller retailer,
some may hurt. Either way, understanding
these trends may be crucial to the growth, or even the survival, of your

 Today, let’s take a look at trend number one: Personalization

 In an earlier post, “Say Goodbye to the ‘Mass Market’”, we
discussed personalization. The growth of
new media, especially cable television and the internet, has made “narrowcasting”
possible. Narrowcasting is the opposite
of broadcasting. Instead of listening to
the music that some program director has decided to play on your favorite radio
station, you can go to I-Tunes, download your favorite songs, and create “play
lists” to fit any occasion.

 Instead of watching an hour of news to get to the handful of
stories that actually interest you, you can set your internet home page to
display only the news that you find interesting. If you’re only interested in local news, you
can have it delivered right to your desktop. If you’ve moved from another city, you can have the news from your old
hometown delivered right along side the news from your new one. And, most of the time, there are links to
video, and audio, and more stories on the same topic.

 If sports are your thing, you can pick the sports you care
about, even the league or the teams, and the scores and stories are right there
whenever you want them along with video clips.

 With that kind of personalizaton in information services, it
just makes sense that today’s consumer expects her shopping experience to be
personalized, too. The good news is that
the independent retailer is the one in the best position to deliver that
personal experience. As Stanyon points
out, the chains have the sophisticated technology for database marketing and
promotions; you  know the customer
personally. “So wile big companies
employ slogans like “reach out and touch someone,” it is more likely the small
independent retailer can actually shake their hand.”

Personalization is one trend where the independent has a
HUGE advantage over the big guys. What
are you doing to take advantage of it? Comment below.

 Tomorrow: Value

One Response

  1. DeKpmL comment2 ,

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