How To Deal With The Shop Local But Buy Online Retail Trend

How To Deal With The Shop Local But Buy Online Retail Trend

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Every Friday I answer your questions in a Facebook LIVE video. This past week many questions revolved around the new retail trend some call shop local but buy online.

The first asked, “What is the best way to approach a customer you just hear saying to their child, ‘No we are not buying that here... just take a picture... I'm positive you can get it cheaper on Amazon?’”

Another asked, “I would love to have a tactful response to when customers say they will just order something online from elsewhere. I'm always too gobsmacked to respond. I'd like to explain that we aren't a showroom and that we feed our kids with our business, but I don't want to sound defensive or whiny. BTW 99% of what we sell is not branded with a vendor name on it but it still happens.”

Discover what excellent retail customer service consists of with my comprehensive primer

My response…

First, remember there are cheap people out there. This is nothing new.

I remember when I was starting out forty years ago and people would return an item because they found it cheaper somewhere else.

And let’s face it, big box stores offer a 10% plus the difference back if you find an item cheaper within a certain time limit.

But here’s where this trend is different…

Shoppers are actually telling each other to go in and get all the information from the good local store but then buy it online to supposedly save money to get the best of both worlds.

In reality, this isn’t shop local but look local.

Here Are Your Options To Deal With Look Local But Buy Online:

Charge a fee. If you carry something that needs to be fitted, charge a fitting fee. Explain that when they buy it, you’ll waive that fee.

IMG_4505.pngPut up guilt signs. Many feel if shoppers only realized the consequences for you, they would change their ways. Sadly, these new consumers know exactly what they are doing. Education isn’t the problem.

Tell them they’re rude. Frankly, if someone I spent 20 minutes with suddenly whipped out a smartphone, took a picture of the item I'd found for them, and then told me they were going to buy it online - not from me - I’d tell them they were rude and to not come back.

I know...I can hear the outcry the customer is always right. And yes, that generally is true - but this isn’t a customer we’re talking about.

That said, I think many retailers believe they give great customer service which pretty much looks like this:

Can I help you find something?
Yes, I’m looking for a widget I saw online.
We have that right over here

Then features and benefits are explained ad nauseam without ever adding personality, wisdom, or finding out about the shopper.

In that case, what do you expect?

If you give the experience of shopping at a warehouse - there is no connection between you and your shopper. You’re nothing that adds value to the transaction.

You know what is interesting? I never hear this problem from those who have signed up for my online training program. Amazing, huh?

That’s because in this day and age, they have learned the necessary skills to engage a stranger. They know they don’t have the luxury of treating customers all the same. And product knowledge isn’t your greatest strength.

You carry too much of the exact same merchandise as online retailers. There has to be more there to the experience or you’re just a robot answering their questions.

What else can be done?

Call your manufacturers. Tell them your shoppers are able to buy online for prices lower than you can are being charged at wholesale. They know what is happening and they are letting people get away with it. Buy less from them, band together with your other stores and push the point. They still need you or they won’t be in business.

Millennials don’t want to carry things home. Make sure you offer free shipping of large items or local delivery for awkward or heavy things like dog food. Having your own website could help with this challenge but not the look local but buy online since your prices would be the same.

See also, How to Battle the 7 Retail Trends Affecting Today's Consumer

In Sum

I know this retail trend is frustrating. Literally millions of people come to my site for answers, but only a small percentage buy my services or products.

They think they deserve my wisdom for free. They don’t realize I can’t continue if I’m giving it all away.

We must all remember that retail is a two-way relationship business. In order for your shopper to have your store to preview their wants, you have to stay in business.

Many shoppers are too afraid to buy online without looking at something or getting all of their questions answered.  They need to learn that it is not fair to get all of that done at your store but then not buy.

These occasional occurrences should not have you devolve into an animosity business, where you look at everyone with suspicion for fear they’ll pull out their smartphone and order online.

And I realize there is no one answer for how to handle this, but the only way forward is to make a relationship. 

Friends don’t take up your time and then snap a picture.

And as for now, the Retail Doctor is here to help you grow your sales.