How can shop local be better incentivized?

Discussion
Source: Café de Mundo/Facebook
Oct 28, 2020
Tom Ryan

Santa Monica is running a scavenger hunt to support local businesses.

Participants are encouraged to visit local businesses this month and get a stamp at each after making a purchase. Once 10 stamps are collected from the 12 participating, shoppers are entered into a sweepstakes to win $1,000 in merchandise from local businesses.

“COVID has affected everyone in the small business community,” Monzerrat Brunkhorst, the owner of Cafe de Mundo who came up with the idea, told the Santa Monica Daily News.I started thinking about something we can all do as a community to support each other and I thought a scavenger hunt is the best way of doing it because you can spread people out through several days and all of us can support each other by sharing customers. We are encouraging the community to have fun with it and go out and explore new places.”

Various shop local efforts have been launched in the area as small businesses struggle to survive the pandemic-stricken economy. Businesses are being asked to post pictures of their store and staff on the town’s social media pages. Videos featuring interviews with business owners have been made and stores have hung shop local banners.

Shop local events are challenged due to social distancing, but some creative approaches include:

  • Community gift cards: A number of towns are offering gift cards or certificates to purchase merchandise across a number of local businesses. The hope is that they’ll become an alternative to national brand gift cards such as Starbucks or Amazon this holiday season;
  • Social media sharing sweepstakes: In some places, consumers are encouraged to post a photo of themselves on social media making a purchase at a local business to enter a sweepstakes to win a sizeable gift card to use at local businesses;
  • Receipts-enabled points program: In Iowa City, customers uploading receipts from local businesses worth at least at least $150 are eligible to receive a $20 gift card. In some cities, consumers uploading receipts from local business enter a sweepstakes;
  • Shop-local merchandise: In California’s Manhattan Beach, Local Love MB merchandise is being sold in stores. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What creative solutions do you see helping to amplify efforts around shop local campaigns? What are often the shortcomings or challenges in collectively executing such campaigns?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Creativity and staying connected is key, and there’s a lot of inspiration out there."
"Any way that a local business can find to connect via e-mail, schedule appointments for personalized service and identify with consumers is an important opportunity."
"It is about creating loyalty among the merchants, as well as with customers, to keep them coming back."

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18 Comments on "How can shop local be better incentivized?"


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David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
CEO and President, Cogent Creative Consulting
2 months 25 days ago

Creating more visibility for local businesses and offering compelling reasons for consumers to visit and shop in these stores is what small businesses need. As most consumers shifted to online shopping, a majority of their spending was channeled to big brands and local businesses are hurting. Encouraging consumers to shop local first with fun games like scavenger hunts and sweepstakes are smart strategies, but it can be even as simple as raising awareness about local businesses. I live in a small town where some of my neighbors have never shopped in the town center. We need to change mindsets.

Laura Davis-Taylor
BrainTrust

We have a thriving local business community with retailers doing some really great stuff such as:

  • Offering a service where you call ahead and they deliver to your car with mobile checkout and full protection gear;
  • Offering a service where you call ahead and get delivery to your home;
  • Gift selection services with both delivery methods above;
  • Weekly Facebook live events;
  • Programmed outdoor themed events, some on their own and some with the entire community of businesses;
  • NextDoor messages and event posts;
  • Restaurants doing family meals or a special offering based on a theme;
  • Ongoing interaction using email and social to stay tight with the community — informing us about a new product, asking for feedback, donations for a cause or needy family or simply saying thanks for helping to keep the business afloat.

Creativity and staying connected is key, and there’s a lot of inspiration out there.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Great list Laura – exactly – so many creative ways to really shine!

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Shopping local is critical for your neighbors in this pandemic. I am volunteering my services to the Boston Main Streets Foundation (BMSF) to bring technology to retailers and restaurants in the 20 neighborhoods of Boston. Offering BOPIS and BOPAC has been critical for these businesses to survive and this scavenger hunt is a great way to drive traffic. At BMSF we are trying to level the technology playing field between national players and the single store operators left behind by the economic boom experienced by the national brands. Please buy local so your neighbors can weather the storm.

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
CEO and President, Cogent Creative Consulting
2 months 25 days ago

Way to help the local Boston retailers and restaurants. Helping them improve their technology and processes helps them compete more effectively.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

How about doing a major push to have a better customer experience in your local businesses? How about finding a way to give free parking? How about a million things other than the old saw of discounting? Sorry but many an untrained marketer will default to “offer a coupon” or incentive when the going gets tough. Be creative. The city of Birmingham, MI is doing a whole promotion around adult foster teens with merchants participating to make a difference in the community. They have a promotion that engages shoppers, gives them a reason to support their community, makes the community stronger and offers multiple compelling stories as a result. You can check out my interview with the organizer Beth here. That is where shop local campaigns can shine -not ending up like a mall promo from the ’70s.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I live in a small town and while shop local has always been supported in digital media, etc., since the pandemic, there has been a bigger push to shop local to help businesses stay open.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I like all the ideas and I am sure there are many more good ones. The key is the involvement, creativity and community focus. It generates discovery and connection. It will bring in new local people who never thought of shopping at particular local stores.

These plans are so much more positive than the embarrassing local bookstore efforts we discussed earlier.

Perry Kramer
BrainTrust

Any way that a local business can find to connect via e-mail, schedule appointments for personalized service and identify with consumers is an important opportunity. Many of these businesses now have an opportunity to schedule one-on-one time and build a first name relationship. They can also get creative and offer virtual one-on-one tours of their store trying to drive impulse buys. Some of it is gimmicks and games to drive the initial contact. However at the end of the day establishing a “small store” personal relationship is what will last.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust
All of the things in the article work to bring awareness to shopping small, and all of them work to attract consumers; the key word being “work” because you can’t do something once and call it a day. My company has worked with independent retailers, and the communities that serve them, for over 30 years. That’s also how long we have had our office in St. Charles, Illinois. The St. Charles Business Alliance works tirelessly to bring people to our stores and restaurants all year long. They have had to get creative this year, turning our annual Scarecrow Festival into the Scarecrow Stroll, a smaller, socially-distanced event that brought customers directly to businesses all over town. And the second it was announced that bars and restaurants had to close inside to customers due to new coronavirus restrictions our community went to work on social media to encourage dining via carry-out. Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter what a retailer or community does if it is only done once. If whatever you try isn’t so great… Read more »
Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

Some creative suggestions in the article. Here are some more to add: 1.) Develop cooperative promotions between local businesses, e.g. with a local florist and a local bakery, buy a birthday cake and get a coupon to be used at the florist and vice versa. 2.) Complimentary valet parking. 3.) Complimentary gift wrapping for any gifts purchased locally. 4.) Complimentary home delivery.

The last three suggestions would be funded by all participating local retailers.
The only limit is one’s imagination.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

I have seen these tactics employed locally, and I have participated in buying gift cards and handing them back to the store owner just as a donation to help keep them in business. I see the main challenge as awareness. Most local residents are not aware of the opportunity to help their neighbor businesses. Better signing around town, spots in local newspapers and local social media groups, as well as targeted mailings with concise, compelling messaging with a “Call To Action” can work.

Scott Norris
Guest

That unfortunately brings up a point that many local print media outlets were struggling in the Before Times and too many have shuttered due to the loss of advertising revenue during the pandemic. If you still have a good local paper, subscribe and advertise! If not – improvise!

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Agreed!

Chuck Ehredt
BrainTrust

I’m pleased to see these efforts and comments. Shop Local campaigns are really important for businesses and can often only be executed by groups of merchants – ideally with significant contributions from the local government entities.

Success depends on the customer´s experience and perception of value – which each store can contribute to, but it is really the community/neighborhood that creates it in the eyes of the customer. Modern technology can enable points schemes that were too complicated or expensive in the past, but I believe the most important thing is ensuring a nice mix or balance of retail offers (cafes, gift shops, clothing stores, convenience stores, etc.) with some elements of interest – such as outdoor art, a piano, a clean environment, parking, controlled traffic, etc.

Such a combination requires first a vision, then commitment, some budget, and ongoing support. But the tide can rise for everyone. It is about creating loyalty among the merchants, as well as with customers, to keep them coming back.

Kathleen Fischer
BrainTrust

I love the scavenger hunt idea to motivate and encourage consumers to shop multiple local businesses. The key is for local businesses to band together, ideally with the support of the community, to offer combined promotions or incentives.

Lauren Goldberg
BrainTrust

Local retailers have to remain visible and remind customers of the role that they play in the community. By implementing strategies that are safe and appealing during this time (curbside pick up, FaceTime personal shopping, outdoor pop-ups), they can help drive sales.

I love the idea of the social media sharing contest above. I’d give bonus points for pictures that promote mask wearing!

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Local businesses have an advantage in that they are local. It’s that simple. They can contribute to the community and connect with their customers in ways large national (and international) retailers can’t. They should take advantage of that, first and foremost. I had a client that couldn’t compete in dollars spent on advertising, not to mention he could barely compete on price. He chose to be more a part of the community, sponsoring youth sports teams, school and church dances, and more. He became a part of the community versus a store in the community. Big difference!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Creativity and staying connected is key, and there’s a lot of inspiration out there."
"Any way that a local business can find to connect via e-mail, schedule appointments for personalized service and identify with consumers is an important opportunity."
"It is about creating loyalty among the merchants, as well as with customers, to keep them coming back."

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