IN response to your lead article in last week’s edition (19/04/2012) ‘The bell tolls’ I feel I need to offer my opinion, having been in accounting, strategy and consulting and at the older end of the Gen Y age group.
I am also a (newly) local business owner on two separate fronts.
I could talk all day on this subject but I’ll try to keep it brief.
Unfortunately for Mrs Barr, technology can sometimes evolve too quickly for us to react.
She bought Leading Edge Music in 2002, two years later, Apple Inc’s iTunes offers instant one-click downloads at $1.69.
But the digital age is here to stay, it is not going anywhere. What does this mean for businesses?
This is a new model which forces and challenges every small business to produce the best product and service and work hard for an audience. Who wins at the end of the day? Consumers.
There is no magic formula for success but I’d like to offer some general guidelines to owners from my observations on rural commerce in the digital age.
1. Embrace your competition: there is a reason why many fruit and veg shops are located directly across from Coles/Woolworths. Leech off the big guns.
2. Find your niche: Some niches are easy than others, eg what makes your cafe better than McDonalds? Harder to answer ones are: what makes my video store better to come to than downloading online?
3. Think about e-commerce: should there be a digital component to your bricks and mortar store? If not, why not? Online stores, or simple product information websites are relatively easy to set up and allow consumers to access their desired information in an instant. If they can do this, they are more likely to use you.
4. Locality: being local is not as important as it once was. Many businesses no longer have the luxury of being a geographic monopoly. If you are local, think about why this is important to your customers/clients; chances are price will not be a strong point.
5. Social media: is very over-rated but is still a great cost-effective way to get the word out to friends and acquaintances.
Any business owners, or potential business owners, I’d encourage to visit the small town of Queenscliff in Victoria.
It is only an hour away from Melbourne and has had to find its points of difference to remain a bustling main street.