It’s fall and the chill has returned. Yes the weather but also that feeling in your spine knowing the holidays are coming and you’ve got to get your game face on.

Retail is a tough business for many reasons, but the ongoing growth of online big retailers is the monster lurking around every corner. How can you compete? What’s the point of local retail anymore?

You might assume that we’re “Buy Local” die-hards… but honestly, we’re realists. We don’t think customers should have to make the decision to sacrifice for the sake of local. Instead, it’s in our (the business owners) hands to create value and make the local buying option better than online.

How do we do that?

Let’s consider convenience. It’s probably why a lot of people buy online. But no matter how convenient it is to buy dish soap while on the couch in your PJs, sometimes you actually need something right now. Even 24 hour delivery might be too long of a wait.

If you’re a business that has an opportunity to provide convenience to your customers, use that! Maybe having your products/services clearly outlined on your website will help people in these situations. Or providing great customer service with quick info by phone, email or social media messenger. You’ve got to be quick and descriptive but you’ll likely steal a few sales from the Amazon giant.

How about help for the indecisive?

Amazon has literally everything. You don’t need to carry everything, some people really prefer less options. You may offer a sense of style that people enjoy, and therefore they trust YOU with their purchasing decisions. Or you might be knowledgeable and able to help someone get the right item instead of wasting time and money online buying the wrong thing. Or you may be able to add value by really simplifying the process, creating packages or sets for common needs that aren’t clearly available online. Bottom line, you need to know your product/service inside out and backwards.

And what about relationships?

You know, a lot of people shop because they’re bored or want to get out and have a conversation, maybe run into a friend or two. How can you make the experience better? Maybe you host special events or offer a cup of tea to your customers while they browse. Maybe you’re really good at remembering names and little facts about your customers. Use this to your advantage!

Whichever path you choose, make sure you are clearly sharing your special strengths in your marketing strategy. Send a monthly email, post daily to your social media accounts, make sure your photos, ads and website clearly brand your business with the strengths you have.

If you’ve got great products in stock, share what you have! If you’re passionate and knowledgeable on your product/service, talk about it! If you love building relationships, show your face!

Let’s get to work – the holidays are coming!