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COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed people’s shopping habits and behavior. Besides the huge online shopping shift, shopping locally is also considered a widespread trend all over the world. It opens some new gates and also challenges for businesses. This article provides business owners some brief information about this emerging trend as well as analyzes the pros and cons of it for businesses to take action.

1. What is local shopping and why is it becoming a trend?

Shopping locally is an act of a consumer who decides to purchase locally produced goods and services from a local business or local shop instead of buying those produced or sold farther away by a bigger retailer.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, this has become a trend. People spend most of their time at home because of lockdown or more people choose to work mainly from home. They start to find needed things around their place, nearby shops to avoid traveling. Gradually, everyone feels more benefits from this changing habit because they feel more safe and responsible by supporting local stores and businesses. Moreover, the quality and guarantee of local products are also easier to recognize and prove. 

According to a survey by Accenture.com, 56% of customers are now shopping at neighborhood retailers or purchasing locally based products. 75% of consumers expect to purchase more locally in the coming year following a report by digital operations platform Brightpearl. Therefore, this trend is not an overnight change but will be continuing in the next coming years.

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2. How does it help the economy?

It supports local infrastructure and social affairs

Choosing to shop and spend locally helps money to circulate back into the local community and assists in the growth of the local economy. That means that local businesses will have more opportunities to invest back in the local infrastructure, social affairs through sponsorships and community events.

Shopping locally also ensures that your tax (which would be spent regardless) is reinvested in your local tax base. Local taxes are then used to fund parks, roads, and other community improvements that we all benefit from every day.

According to Glerin.com, for every $100 spent at a chain store, just $48 returns to the local economy but if you spend $100 in a local business, $68 comes back to the local economy. Local businesses, rather than national chain stores, buy a lot of local services and commodities. As a result, other related services will be more demanded such as legal, accounting, cleaning or advertising services, as well as other office stuff.

It helps to create a distinctive community

Local businesses normally provide local flavor. This uniqueness contributes to the development of a distinct community, making your town a desirable place to reside while also attracting additional tourism revenue. Because visitors often seek out sites that offer them the sense of being someplace when choosing the place for vacation.

It helps to protect the environment

Local businesses use less land, carry more locally created items, are positioned closer to locals, and assist to minimize traffic and pollution. You’ll save money on transportation and reduce your overall consumption of fossil fuels by not going out of town to shop or having products shipped from across the country.

Telephone orders

3. What are the opportunities and challenges for small businesses?

Local shopping trends bring more opportunities and also challenges for businesses. But challenges are there for you to overcome and stand out.

Opportunities

It is a great chance for small businesses to gain more local sales and expand their production and service since people no longer depend too much on the chain stores. The demand for local products and local service is enormous so increasing sales and customer experience are much easier than before.

Besides, with the willingness to support local businesses, people will be the best source for word-of-mouth marketing. This marketing type is effective and cost-saving.

Challenges

This trend is also a challenge for businesses if they don’t change their business strategy to adapt to this new expectation. There are some basic ways for businesses as follow:

  • Take full use of online channel

According to research by ROBO Economy, there are more than 50% of buyers searching online before they buy in-store. That means that having an online store or local shopping website with a suitable eCommerce platform gives you more chances to expose to customers by targeting local customers through online ads and helps increase local shop sales. Besides, local business owners also can use some online apps or websites as mentioned in this article that helps going online easier.

  • Improve products and services

Retailers also need to design services and experiences to meet customer’s needs and to get word-of-mouth recommendations. The product and service’s quality and quantity will decide the customer’s satisfaction. This is one of the main ways to attract customers to local shops.

Cashless POS system for contactless payment

4. Some websites and apps that support local businesses

There are some apps or websites that support a lot for local businesses. Here below are some recommended apps:

  • Facebook is very popular with its marketplace platform which helps local businesses to show their products and services to the customers. In addition, it helps all the businesses in the same area connect and buyers can find their demanding products in a created local business group. Facebook ads have a target option in which you can choose to advertise your products to local groups or areas.
  • Google Maps is a good way to find local businesses or shops in specific areas. By searching, customers can see your business details, your product’s pictures. Therefore, each business must have a google account to appear on Google Maps.
  • Tripadvisor will provide both local people and tourists with vital information on the best local eateries to visit and other small businesses to support. This app is very popular and reliable so you can feel trustable and make sure that your money is worth spending.
  • Local Flavor: Like Tripadvisor, this app also helps you find suitable local restaurants and businesses. In addition, it also gives you some good deals and discounts to try out.
  • Pointy: This is linked with Google to help the business owners to add product catalogs with up-to-date information. Pointy connects to almost all POS systems such as Magestore, Square, Vend,… so just need to scan the products and you will have all product list and inventory updated on Google Business profile, together with your contact information. When customers search on Google, they can see all your information and can easily find your local shop. 
pointy_box

Conclusion

In summary, the local shopping trend in this new century is a good signal showing that buyers are now more locally and environmentally conscious. This is also an alarm for anyone having their own business that they have to reconsider their business strategy and operation to go along with the new century’s requirements. With this article, we hope that all the businesses can recognize all the opportunities and challenges that this trend may bring and find out the best solutions for your businesses to make them become your competitive advantage.

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Author Kate N.

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