‘What’s The Difference?’

Success Requires A Convincing Answer

Consumer indifference is a threat to independent retailers.

All retailers are vulnerable when people don’t see, feel or otherwise experience a meaningful distinction from one shopping option to the next. For independents, that’s when business can stray to wider selections, lowest prices, click-and-buy convenience, free shipping and other advantages against which most independents can’t compete.

“What’s the difference?”

People often utter such resigned sentiment to suggest there is no motivating difference among choices. As in… “What’s the difference if I purchase cookware from a neighborhood store, a chain store or a website.”

It’s a rhetorical question in need of very real answers by kitchenware store owners hoping to stay firmly inside today’s multi-channel shopping loop by inspiring in-depth purchase considerations beyond such factors as cheap, fast and easy.

Even before consumers consider their options, independent retailers must ask themselves over and over what truly differentiates their businesses. They need compelling answers.

Delivering a first-rate customer experience through attentive service, effervescent enthusiasm, in-depth knowledge and selectively premium merchandising are, by now, minimum costs of entry shared by successful independent retailers. That might not be enough to make a difference in today’s point-and-click marketplace.

Consider what else can be done to stand apart from the competition. Create only-available-here delights to cultivate a unique identity that a) draws shoppers to the store; b) convinces them to buy from the store; c) persuades them come back to the store.

The 2019 GOURMET INSIDER® All-Star retailers profiled in this edition have imprinted their businesses with deep, distinguishing marks needed to thrive in a hyper-competitive retail marketplace.

Jamie Butler of The Butler’s Pantry in Escalon, CA, tapped deeper into her community by teaming with a local gym to conduct weight-loss “boot camps” featuring exclusive healthy cooking classes and product demos.

Penny Klinedinst of Plum’s Cooking Company in Sioux Falls, SD, put her sharp eye for branding and detail to work by thoroughly reorganizing an already successful local destination to create a more visually arresting, cohesive shopping experience.

Pam Gabriel of Sweet Gourmet in Tyler, TX, embraces the high reward potential of being first in her market with new products, marketing tactics and in-store events to enrich exclusive experiences for her customers.

In identifying and promoting what makes a business truly unique and inviting, this is not a time for subtlety and nuance. It’s a time for convincing execution and salesmanship.

The most successful independent retailers prepare themselves for all the possible questions consumers might ask to justify a more involved, often comparably more expensive, purchase. These operators know what makes their stores inviting and irresistible.

The best way to deal with consumer indifference is to douse it before it spreads.

“What’s the difference?”

It raises a more important question: Are you ready with a convincing answer?