Thursday, August 9, 2012
By Mike Ryan
Amazon has an edge on both small and big business. The hallmark of their success? Offering the consumer a wide array of goods, for cheap, to be delivered to the consumer's doorstep in days. That's some tough competition. The playing field will be somewhat evened when Amazon starts charging sales tax here in CA this autumn. Not one to sit back, the company continues to up its game with even more emphasis on convenience and service. According to the L.A. Times, Amazon has plans to spend $500 million dollars to open up two distribution centers, one outside Los Angeles and the other outside San Francisco. This will allow them to offer same day service on purchased products. In recent days, eBay has also announced a similar initiative.
The threat of Amazon is apparent to small business owners and anyone who understands the message of Buy Local. Amazon directly takes away local business. And the mega online retailer's shipping methods are not exactly green. By nature, the majority of products are imported (and we're not talking about Culver City).
Thankfully many of us still enjoy stepping out of the house, exploring our neighborhoods, interacting with local merchants, touching products and being able to purchase them on the spot. However, competition is fierce and local businesses need to continue to find ways compete with online retailers like Amazon. So what to do?
A critical step for Buy Local SM businesses to employ in order to compete with online retailers is to offer top-notch customer service. Brick and mortar businesses have the advantage here--100% direct customer engagement--from the moment the customer walks into the business. Staff needs to be friendly, knowledgeable about the products and services they are selling, and do everything possible to make people feel good about the whole Buy Local experience.
Another powerful way to compete with online retailers is for local businesses to offer same-day delivery service. Here's where Gofer It!, a fellow Buy Local SM business, can help. Outsourcing expensive couriers or establishing the infrastructure for a delivery service is very challenging for most asset-strapped businesses. Through data-leveraging, price contract negotiating, watchdog software and other fancy courier lingo, Gofer It! has found a way to provide dramatically low delivery rates and to assist local businesses.
“As a small business owner who sometimes has to multi-task as delivery man, I am so glad I found them and will now happily retire my messenger cap. Gofer It! had made my life so much easier,” writes Ross Canter, owner of Cookie Good, a Santa Monica bakery, on a recent Yelp post.
With Amazon’s same-day delivery around the corner, local businesses may want to see if Gofer It!’s services are right for them. Standard delivery of up to 75 lbs., up to 10 miles, from 7a.m. to 7p.m., Monday through Friday, costs $15-$20, depending on service level. Same-day delivery is great incentive that small businesses can offer to their customers, helping to extend their reach and boost the all-important bottom line.
Local residents can benefit from Gofer It!’s service. Bardach, a Santa Monica resident, created Gofer It! in response to real time needs he had undertaking a home remodeling project. Private individuals have used the Gofer It! for a wide array of errands, from dropping off stroller-parts to delivering an orchid from Trader Joe's to a new mom. The bottom line is that people everywhere have better things to do than sitting in traffic!
Santa Monica has always done an admiral job of keeping the big box stores at bay. Amazon's same day delivery service brings a new set of challenges to the mom-and-pop stores. A unique delivery service like Gofer It! can help small businesses stay in the game.