There are two competing trends in the retail world that I believe are going to shape the future for both small businesses and big-name traditional retailers. The first is that it has become much easier to purchase your basic necessities from home. Large, traditional retailers are struggling more and more just to get people through the door. Whether you’re shopping for groceries or looking at high-end electronics for your home, why travel to, park, and make your way into and out of a store when you get better selection, lower prices, and more convenience online?
The second trend is that while big-name traditional retailers find themselves struggling, small, unique businesses are in a better place than ever, with a brighter future to come. Small businesses have the advantage of being able to offer unique products, specialized services, and personal attention that the big names don’t, with access to both online and traditional markets… especially with the coming huge availability of retail space.
Filling in the Gaps
Depending on where you live, visiting your local shopping mall can already be a less-than-inspiring experience. Empty storefronts are a common sight in all but the most successful malls, and big-name retailers are dropping like flies due to stiff competition from online retailers… therefore cutting back on services, employees and inventory. This means that there will be retail space opening up for small businesses as well as other service related opportunities.
When big retail anchor businesses go by the wayside, and there is way less parking space need for a myriad of reason, someone has to fill the space, and I believe that small business retailers may soon find more retail space waiting for them at reasonable prices. There are already opportunities for small businesses to fill in service gaps left by their big-name counterparts, and I believe those opportunities will continue to grow over time. As always, it will take a sense of the moment and some tolerance for risk to embrace those opportunities completely. But sitting still is also a risk, especially when the ingredients are in place for a continued resurgence of small, successful retail businesses.
Being Flexible and Ready to Adapt are Key
The challenge for small businesses is to stay tuned in and continue taking advantage of these opportunities. Be ready to step up as traditional large retailers falter. Many storefront businesses that could not survive before due to the crazy cost of retail space, will once again become competitive. All the big names won’t be disappearing, but those that don’t adapt to the realities of the modern market will have a very tough time remaining profitable. That doesn’t mean that growing your small business will be easy, but it does allow you to plan for the future in a way that maximizes your potential return.
It’s important to remember that small businesses need to adapt, too, and those that find the most success will do so by creating an excellent customer experience in-store, to go along with easy, convenient options for online shopping. For a small, nimble business with a willingness to change with the times, the future is looking very bright.