In 2013, local businesses are not only competing with each other, they are competing with the entire world, given the availability of online shopping and the explosion of social media. Local stores that are succeeding are focused on customer service and are creating an experience for their customers from the moment they walk through the doors that encourages repeat business. So, when you hear rumblings that “bricks and mortar” concepts for stores are dead, know that we disagree. Even in this time of increased pace and expectation, there are plenty of stellar local companies that are finding new ways to earn your loyalty and shopping dollars, and it’s the tenacity of these small businesses, and their commitment to our community, that help make Nashville the wonderful city it is.
We asked three businesses who are succeeding at growing their local clientele–Woo Skincare + Cosmetics, Parnassus Books and Monkee’s Nashville–what they are doing to get customers in the door and keep them happy:
Woo Skincare + Cosmetics, a locally based beauty boutique, just announced that if you see a brand they carry offer an online special, simply print off that coupon, (or screenshot), and Woo will match that price. Pretty great, huh? They recognize that their customers are loyal, and this is another way for Woo to show their loyalty in return. But, it is the shopping experience, product selection and individualized advice that have continued to keep customers happy.
How does Woo Skincare + Cosmetics differentiate itself above all the noise and the competition to get the customer in the door?
“No question there’s a lot of “noise” out there. We all feel it, personally and professionally. I think sometimes women feel it the loudest. We’re still often the ones doing the most juggling, the most multi-tasking. Woo Skincare + Cosmetics is a break from some of that noise: a place to be pretty…a place to focus on yourself a bit…a place to indulge. We know that a makeover or a facial or a manicure — or a new lip color or scent or lovely robe — isn’t going to change the world. We’re not here to solve every problem. We’re here to help each and every customer feel just a little bit prettier, a little bit more confident, a little bit more relaxed — and then SHE can go out, and solve all the stuff she’s tackling. That’s really the underlying basis of how we communicate with our customer.
Really, when we’re thinking about our biggest competition in a big picture way, it’s ourselves. How do WE keep raising our bar? How do WE keep getting better? It’s our own goals we’re always trying to exceed.” — Woo Caroland
To find out more about Woo Skincare + Cosmetics, click here.
Locally-owned Parnassus Books opened when Nashville found itself nearly depleted of any bookstores. There is probably no other business that has been as hard hit with online shopping as has the independent bookstore. In late 2011, publishing veteran Karen Hayes and best-selling novelist Ann Patchett decided to open up a sanctuary for book lovers and for people craving an intelligent curation of current and timeless literature. They have hired some of the smartest, most well read people in the entire southeast to individually help each customer.
How do you handle people taking advantage of your advice and curation, only to leave and order these selections at an online discounter?
“It is disappointing when someone comes in and spends time utilizing our expertise, then chooses to go online to get the items we’ve recommended. Our staff, who’ve carefully curated the store and devoted their lives to reading are a large part of why we can’t discount books the way places like Amazon can. When you make a purchase at our store, you aren’t just buying a book. You’re helping us make sure we have the best staff we possibly can to serve you to the fullest.
There’s nothing we can do to stop a handful of customers from treating our store like a showroom. But maybe after reading that book we recommended, they’ll realize that the service they get from us is more valuable than paying the lowest price possible.
Independent bookstores like Parnassus don’t only want to sell you a product, they strive to be community centers where readers and writers can gather to celebrate books and reading. And we can only continue to thrive — with storytimes for children and hosting events with some of the best authors in the world with our locals supporting us. We aim to ensure our community remains a place where the written word is important and valued. So come in and buy a book!” — Karen Hayes
To find out more about Parnassus Books, and their upcoming events, click here.
Monkee’s Nashville, a women’s boutique specializing in apparel, shoes and accessories, readily admits that it is a daily challenge to make the busy women of Nashville stop by, especially when they can be shopping on their iPhone or iPad inbetween appointments. Monkee’s strives to continuously create individual opportunities for customers to carve time out of their schedules to stop by.
How do you use social media and the web to enhance your customer’s experience and to find new customers?
“Social media is such an asset to our business. Facebook offers our clients immediate access to our store. Our clients can view our daily arrivals of new product as well as our “look of the day” each day to see how we style our every day customers. We encourage our customers to shop with us through Facebook. Leave a comment or send a message and we can style you through social media while you zip around town. Facebook continues to be the fastest way to create a buzz among our current and new clients.” — Elizabeth Robinson, owner
To stay in touch with Monkee’s of Nashville, and their featured items on Facebook, click here.
Nashville, support your local bricks and mortar stores. They make our city great!