3 Ways Independent Retailers Can Survive Against Big Box Stores

Independent retailers have more leverage than they think when it comes to persevering against big box stores. Here are 3 ways this can be done:

1. Take advantage of the socially conscious shopper

It has never been a greater time for independent retailers to stand out from Big Box stores, and this thanks the progressively socially conscious consumers. Today’s shoppers, especially the millennial generation, are increasingly willing to pay premium for buy local, organic and cruelty-free products. The beauty industry serves as a prime example. According to Google Consumer Insights 2017, “Vegan Skincare” is currently the most important skincare trend in the US (searches related to this term increased by 83% over the last year). This would also explain the success of Montreal-based Company Mat & Nat, whose minimalistic design and vegan materials have attracted waves of millennial fans.

With the Shop Local, Mini House, Minimalist and Organic movements, the quintessential existence of Target and Wal-Mart are put into question. The latter, being the big box that they are, do not have the flexibility to adjust their business model to the ideals of the modern shopper. In contrast, independent retailers do have such flexibility, from capitalizing on the Shop Local Movement, to fostering a unique retail experience.

2. Learn to take advantage of online shopping platforms

Contrary to popular beliefs, Amazon is a platform where independent retailers can shine, especially if when they offer a niche or trending product.

According to Google Consumer Insights 2017, the product “Charcoal Mask” is a rising star in the US. When searching for this product on Amazon, the highest-ranking results actually belong to independent Amazon sellers and e-retailers (and not established brands such as Origins or Boscia). If not for Amazon, Dermatique Purifying Black Mask would never gain this level of visibility via its own e-commerce website, which has about 200 monthly visitors a month (SimilarWeb).

Once independent sellers have built a following on Amazon, the latter should not miss out on this newfound brand equity (and customer email list) to direct customers to their own e-commerce site. Amazon is a thus good way to get discovered; especially if you are offering a product that consumers specifically want.

Find out how to optimize your product listings on Amazon, and the advantage of converting to Amazon’s FBA model.

3. Invest in long-tail keywords and create value-adding content

Unfortunately for independent e-retailers, ranking for top organic keywords on Google is an uphill battle. For instance, if I type the keyword “Face Brush” on Google (14,800 searches/month in the US), here are the organic results I see:

We can see that the top spots are occupied by multi-brand e-retailers Sephora, Ulta and big box store Wal-Mart. One way to carve your own place on SERP is thus to optimize your website with long-tail keywords and compelling content. Foreo, for instance, is doing this exceptionally well, thanks to its blog, Mysa:

While Mysa does not rank when you types top generic keywords such as “face brush”, it does rank on the top 3 position when a array long-tail keywords such as this one is entered:

This is because Mysa’s articles are optimized with long-tail keywords, and provide searchers with relevant, interesting content.

Key Take-Away

Thanks to the increasingly socially-conscious consumer, the growing importance of online shopping (Amazon), and finally, the opportunity to carve your online space through long-tail keywords and value adding content; as an independent retailer, your chances of survival against big box stores are way brighter than you think.